Los Angeles officials are warning that anyone discharging a firearm into the air to celebrate the new year not only risks killing someone but could also face a lengthy prison sentence.
"Firing into the air weapons in celebration puts innocent lives at risk," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said last week. "Nothing ruins the holiday season like an errant bullet coming down and killing an innocent."
Villaraigosa said the misuse of firearms is on everyone's mind in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting that left six adults and 20 children dead. The mayor vowed that authorities will pursue criminal charges for anyone caught in possession of a weapon in public.
For more than a decade, city and county leaders have tried to quell celebratory gunfire.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said a bullet discharged into the air falls at a rate of 300 to 700 mph, depending on the weapon — "easily enough to crack the human skull."