Every year, a significant number of people throughout Los Angeles County engage in the extremely dangerous practice of discharging firearms into the air to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. In an effort to educate and warn the public of the problem, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, L.A.Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, District Attorney’s Office, City Attorney’s Office and County Board of Supervisors have embarked upon an awareness campaign. This campaign is designed to help reduce incidents of indiscriminate gunfire that, while on the decline, has continued to be a deadly tradition.
The Gunfire Reduction Campaign aims to advise the community that celebrating the New Year with gunfire will not be tolerated in the County and City of Los Angeles. California Penal Code Section 246.3 prohibits negligent discharging of firearms. Any person who violates Section 246.3 will have their firearm confiscated and will be arrested for a felony crime.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and LASD Sheriff Lee Baca held a news conference Thursday to publicize their concern about holiday-related celebratory gunfire. To make a significant impact on this problem, thousands of “Don’t Shoot” flyers and posters have been printed and distributed to the community. It is the hope of both agencies that with the partnership of the media and the distribution of “Don’t Shoot” flyers, the public will be informed regarding the dangers and dire consequences of this irresponsible act.
In addition to the Gunfire Reduction Campaign, a technological tool called the Shotspotter is assisting Deputies in the field with locating people who fire guns. This piece of advanced technology is deployed in the Century Station areas and can pinpoint gunfire within a few feet of where the shots were fired. “This is beneficial because it can tell the Deputies where the suspect is located and the data allows them to develop violence suppression strategies and tactical plans. This has been extremely successful in our crime fighting initiative and one of many tools that help decrease crime in the County” said Sheriff Baca.
On July 4, 1999, Brian Perez, a young, outgoing, 9-year-old boy was playing with family members in the front yard of his home. Someone in the area shot a firearm into the sky and the stray bullet struck Brian in the head, killing him. “Shooting guns in the air is dangerous and illegal. If you are caught shooting a gun in the air you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”, said Chief Charlie Beck.
The public is also reminded that toy replica guns that resemble real weapons are also a concern for law enforcement officers and that playing with replica guns is strongly discouraged. “For too long, dangerous weapons have contributed to countless unnecessary tragedies and deaths across the country,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.
Together, the proud men and women of LAPD and LASD ask the public to STOP the senseless act of firing weapons into the air and CELEBRATE SAFELY.
In addition, should a shooting occur, members of the community are encouraged to call 9-1-1. To report information regarding a crime, please call 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.