At the Newport News Police Department (NNPD) we wish you and your family a very happy and safe new year. To keep your neighborhood safe, please be aware that celebratory gunfire is not only dangerous but a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,500 fine and one year in jail; however if an injury occurs, it could be a felony.
Bullets shot upwards simply do not vanish into space. They most definitely come back down to Earth and fall on something – the ground, a car, a building, or a person.
Bullets fired at angles, less than vertical are more dangerous, as the bullet maintains its angular ballistic trajectory, is far less likely to engage in tumbling motion, and so travels at speeds much higher than a bullet in free fall. Firearms expert Julian Hatcher studied falling bullets in the 1920s and his study showed that .30 caliber rounds can reach terminal velocities of 300 feet per second as they fall. More recent research has indicated that 200 feet per second is enough to penetrate the skull.
For those hit by falling bullets, the chance of the wound being fatal was far higher than a typical shooting. Hospitals put deaths from regular shootings between 2% and 6%, while for those struck by falling bullets the death rate was close to one third. The reason is simple – those unlucky enough to be hit by falling shells were more likely to be struck on the head, and while the bullets were travelling slower after being shot into the sky, they were still capable of smashing skulls.
Unfortunately, many innocent residents have been wounded or killed in the U.S. due to celebratory shooting. As we ring in the New Year, please do your part – keep our community safe! If you would like to report celebratory gunfire in your neighborhood, call the Newport News Police Department at (757) 247-2500. If you would like to make an anonymous report, you can call the Newport News Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.