Bullets fired skyward fall back to earth at high speed, sometimes striking and seriously injuring people as they fall. They’ve even been known to penetrate building roofs and injure people inside. In 2010 in Decatur, a four-year-old boy was struck when an AK-47 round penetrated a church roof and struck him in the head as he sat next to his parents during a New Year’s Eve service.
The Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office announced Monday prosecutors will recommend a yearlong sentence for anyone convicted of “reckless celebratory discharging of firearms.” They will also ask judges to confiscate the offender’s gun and levy the maximum possible fine. Judges take prosecutors’ recommendations under consideration during sentencing, but the final decision is solely theirs to make.
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“The solicitor general’s office will continue its efforts to ensure Gwinnett citizens feel safe and secure through aggressive and innovative prosecution,” said investigator Curtis Clemons in a statement. “Further, the above measures are being implemented to deter any individuals who would endanger the public through reckless disregard of human life and safety.”
A Lilburn man was killed by celebratory gunfire on Dec. 31, 2010. Also in Gwinnett, two men were charged with shooting guns under the influence of alcohol and near public roads on Jan. 1, 2019. Each also faced a charge of reckless conduct.
“Anyone who fires into the air, whether it results in an injury nor not, will be charged accordingly if we are able to determine the identity of the shooter,” said Campos of the APD. “If someone is injured as a result of celebratory gunfire, the penalties are obviously stiffer.”
A 2004 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people struck by gunfire shot into the air are most likely to be hit in the head.
In Georgia, it is illegal to fire a gun on someone’s property without permission, within 50 feet of a public road or highway and while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Violating any of those laws is a misdemeanor offense. The solicitor general’s office prosecutes misdemeanors, while the district attorney’s office prosecutes felonies.
Anyone who sees or hears gunfire should seek cover and call 911, Campos said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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