December 30, 2010 6:49:00 PM
The beginning of a new year is cause for reflection and celebration. Some welcome the calendar change quietly, others will greet 2011 with all the noise they can muster. For a misguided few, this means the discharging of firearms.
A bullet fired into the air returns to earth traveling between 300 and 700 feet per second, a velocity that can easily kill. And chances are if that bullet is going to hit a human, it''s going to hit him in the head. That''s why, as one study suggests, victims hit by celebratory gunfire are more likely to be killed that someone hit by gunfire aimed at them.
Last year in DeKalb County, Ga., 4-year-old Marquel Peters was killed by gunfire on New Year''s eve when a bullet came through the roof of his church.
Since January 2010, more than 1,000 people in that county have taken "Marquel''s pledge," a vow not to engage in celebratory gunfire. The county has gone so far as to ask ammunition dealers to refrain from selling bullets on the days leading up to the Fourth of July, New Year''s Eve and other holidays. Seven DeKalb businesses have agreed not sell ammunition between July 1 and July 4, and on New Year''s Eve.
Columbus Police Chief Joe St. John says, make no mistake about it, discharging firearms in the city limits is against the law.
"It''s never OK to shoot your gun in city limits," says St. John. "If that thing comes down and hits somebody you''re going to be charged criminally."
Locally, New Year''s revelers who want to kick up their heels have a myriad of choices that don''t involve firearms.
Restaurateurs throughout the Triangle would love to have you as their year-end guest. The third annual "Having a Ball Downtown" New Year''s Eve Block Party rings in 2011 at the intersection of College Street and Fifth Street South, from 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. There''s a "Country in the Park" New Year''s Eve Dance from 8 p.m. to midnight at Propst Park''s Activities Center and Big Ben Atkins and the Class of ''65 play for an event benefiting Camp Rising Sun at Trotter Convention Center. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
And then there is always the quieter option of dinner and a movie with friends or family.
We wish you a safe and happy new year. Make all the noise you like, just please don''t do it with a gun.