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Police warn against celebratory gunfire

PHOENIX — If you’re going to ring in the New Year, don’t do it with gunfire.

Phoenix police will be out Monday night in hopes of curbing random gunfire or catching those who shoot wildly into the night just for fun.

“There’s a general rule of firearm safety, don’t ever point your gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson. “The problem is, when you shoot in a celebratory fashion, you are shooting and it’s unknown where that bullet is going to go.”

Random gunfire is not only dangerous, but illegal. Shannon’s Law was enacted after the 1999 death of 14-year-old Shannon Smith, who was on the phone standing outside her central Phoenix home when a stray bullet struck the teen and killed her.

Thompson said people who use a gun to celebrate need to think about their actions.

“[They]celebrate by shooting into the air, shoot into the ground, just shoot to hear the ‘bang, bang, bang’ of the gun on New Year’s Eve … ‘I’ve just committed a Class 6 felony and could go to prison for up to a year,’ ” said Thompson.

They could also be fined at least $2,500.

Police report there has been a steady decline in arrests on New Year’s Eve.

“I think there are good people in our community who just don’t understand that it’s dangerous and illegal to do this,” said Thompson.

KTAR’s Jim Cross contributed to this article.