While many people celebrate the Fourth of July by going and seeing professional fireworks displays or shooting off their own fireworks at home, some celebrate in a much more dangerous way. They discharge firearms into the air. While many consider celebratory gunfire harmless, it is actually more likely to be fatal than a typical shooting. Deaths from regular shootings range from between 2% to 6%, while deaths from celebratory shootings are closer to 33%. A bullet shot into the air must eventually come down, and it can fall at 200 feet per second, which is enough force to pierce the skull.
At about 10 p.m. on July 4th, 2018, Scott Deal was at Busch Gardens when he felt a searing pain in his left shoulder. After the wound began to bleed, he headed to a first aid station in the park. The wound came from a falling bullet.
In another instance, on New Year’s Day, 2013, a local pilot and his girlfriend were flying his plane near the Mathews Bridge downtown. They heard a loud pop and noticed a bullet hole in the window. Blood began streaming down the pilot’s neck. He was able to land safely, despite being shot in the back of the head.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the majority of celebratory gunfire injuries are to the head, chest, and shoulders.
Crime and Safety expert for News Jax 4 Ken Jefferson said that there have been many times during his tenure with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department where he answered calls for shots fired. They would discover that it was celebratory gunfire.
Even if no one is hurt, officers are often already stretched thin during the holidays. If the bullet strikes and hurts or kills someone, criminal charges could apply.