Some New Year’s Eve revelers think nothing of unholstering their weapon and pointing it upward in the air to ring in the new year in Georgia and elsewhere in the country. This is most commonly a practice observed by individuals who hail from cultures like Puerto Rico, for example. But even there the practice has begun to cause concern and alarm due to the injuries and deaths that often result.
Georgia law enforcement and legislators are seeing a growing tendency for celebratory gunfire here now, especially with the large hispanic culture in the area. And one small boy has already lost his life as a result, prompting law enforcement to remind the public that celebratory gunfire isn’t safe, according to CBS Atlanta.
In 2010, while sitting in church during a New Year’s Eve service, 4-year-old Marquel Peters was struck and killed in the head by a stray bullet believed to have been fired by a New Year’s Eve reveler. The bullet pierced the church’s ceiling, striking the child as a result.
“I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through,” Marquel’s mother Natalee recently told CBS Atlanta’s WGCL. Ms. Peters wants other parents to be spared the devastation of having their child be hit by a stray bullet fired from someone shooting their guns in the air at New Years or during other celebratory events.
Georgia’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) was made aware of the dangers of celebratory gunfire years before Marquel Peters lost his life to the practice, as they accepted an invitation by Puerto Rico in late 2003 to help investigate injuries resulting from celebratory gunfire between Dec. 31, 2003 and Jan. 1, 2004.
At that time, celebratory gunfire resulted in one death and 19 injuries in Puerto Rico. The majority of injuries occured in certain areas like San Juan, which, like Atlanta, is also a metropolitan area with a dense population.
What the CDC found back then was that the majority of celebratory gunfire injuries and deaths were the result of the victim being hit in the head with the falling or flying bullet, like Georgia child Marquel Peters.
Celebratory gunfire has grown so much in the state of Georgia that both the state house and senate passed resolutions in 2011 to address the dangerous practice. On Feb. 23 the Georgia Senate passed S.R.1 with 53 yeas and zero nay votes.
The resolution urges greater efforts in educating Georgians regarding the dangers of shooting guns into the air at any time, including celebrations, as well as studying and adopting stricter criminal sanctions against those who practice the dangerous activity and it leads to injury or loss of life of another.
The Georgia House passed a similar measure on March 28 of this year, but with less support. There were 139 representative votes in support of more education and stricter punishments against celebratory gunfire, but 23 House reps voted against the measure, which was adopted in spite of their opposition.
To learn which Georgia House representatives voted not to educate or protect Georgians against celebratory gunfire click on the Georgia General Assembly website link.