Celebratory Gunfire Is Still Illegal, Houston Police Say

It's one of the first laws of physics that most people learn — what goes up, must come down. That, of course, applies to shots fired in the air during celebrations like the Fourth of July. And Houston Police are part of yet another education campaign to remind people that random gunfire simply isn't a smart way to mark Independence Day. David Pitman reports.

Houston Police Chief Charles McLelland says it's difficult to put an actual number on just how many people use the Fourth of July as an occasion to shoot their weapons in the air.

"There's some people that, y'know, shoot illegal fireworks inside the city, and it's hard to distinguish those from gunfire.  So when we get a call for service for shots being fired, sometimes it's actually fireworks."

But the chief says there are two parts of the city where celebratory gunfire, aimed at no one or nothing in particular, happens more often.

"The East End part of Houston has been one of the more problematic areas.  Also, in the Gulfton area, along the Southwest Freeway corridor."

So, if it's well-established that a bullet fired into the air has to land somewhere, why do people still do it?  Chief McLelland says it's a combination of willful ignorance, and getting caught up in the excitement of the moment.

"And then there are just some people that, for whatever reason, are going to do something stupid.  Whether that's because of their state of intoxication, or just, y'know, just being stupid."

Chief McLelland says there won't be any special patrols dedicated solely to finding people randomly firing guns over the holiday weekend.  But he says there will be enough officers on the streets to help make sure everyone's safe.
 

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David Pitman

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