Hey, Miami, Don't Fire Your Gun Into the Air to Celebrate NYE

Journalists look forward to the last week of December as the time of year when the silliest civic news releases hit our inboxes. They come from mayors, city commissioners and celebrities, all sincerely asking for the same thing: Please, Miami, stop shooting your guns into the air to celebrate New Year's Eve.  

Sadly, there's a reason that officials such as Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Audrey Edmonson have to hold a news conference for this extremely common-sense request. And that reason is because Miamians love shooting guns to celebrate things. And often, the bullets from those celebratory gunshots hit people.

Two years ago, a 15-year-old kid minding his own business in Miramar got hit in the head by a bullet fired by someone in his neighborhood celebrating the Miami Heat's NBA title.

The year before, two people celebrating Fourth of July at the Biltmore of all places were struck by falling lead. In 2010, it was a young boy visiting from Italy who was seriously wounded while dining with his family in the Design District. In 2008, two people were killed by celebratory bullets.

That's why Miami's "One Bullet Kills the Party" campaign hit its 18th year in 2015. In some particularly gunfire-prone communities, police are trying new techniques like a gunfire detection system in Miami Gardens that police say can help them track down residents pulling a Yosemite Sam routine at midnight.

"We're going and knocking on doors and talking with citizens and sharing with them information about the dangers and deadly aspects of celebratory gunfire," the city's Assistant Chief Alfred Lewers Jr. told reporters earlier this week. "And we're having that same conversation with the people firing the guns, letting them know that we know they're firing them."  

(There's pretty good evidence that the touted gunfire detection system doesn't work so well, but that's another story.)

Anyway, the annual news releases might well be ridiculous, but we obviously still need them. Grab some pots and pans. Fly in illegal fireworks from rural Georgia. Just leave the gun out of it, people.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink