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Campaigns across the country remind people to not start 2012 shooting their guns in the air

LatinaLista — 2012 is only several hours away and, yet, neighborhoods and law enforcement are bracing, not for that New York Times Square ball to drop at midnight, but for those inevitable gunshots marking the new year.

Los Angeles Police Department's holiday campaign poster to get people to not shoot their guns to celebrate the New Year.

Some people think it’s ok to shoot their guns at midnight tonight. After all, they’re not shooting at anybody — it’s just air.

Unfortunately, these are the same people who probably never took a physics class or have even given much thought to the concept of gravity. In other words, what goes up must come down — somewhere. And it comes down at a rate of 200 feet per second and have enough force to penetrate a roof or a human skull, according to experts.

Usually, the sad stories that start off the new year have to do with someone innocent getting killed by New Year’s gunfire. That’s why cities across the country — from Los Angeles and Dallas to Montgomery, Alabama and Miami — have created campaigns to get people to not fire guns at midnight.

Far from being a right to shoot — if they legally own a gun in the first place — it’s not OK to shoot in city limits. For example, in many cities it’s a felony to shoot within city limits and/or fines for shooting a gun can range anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to $4,000 plus time in jail. If that bullet comes down and kills someone then it’s murder, no matter if it was an accident.

An anti-violence group on Chicago’s West Side took tonight’s threat of New Year’s gunfire a step further. CeaseFire, the anti-violence group, hosted a pre-New Year’s Eve peace summit Friday night with three hundred African-American and Latino young men.

“We’re doing our best to promote a peaceful New Year’s Eve – and talk to these young guys about not shooting their guns on New Year’s Eve and settling up their differences with other guys. Some of these conflicts are dealing with females as well,” said Illinois Director Tio Hardiman.

Hardiman points out that too many young people are too quick to draw their guns, not because it’s a gang thing but because it starts out being interpersonal violence which then spirals into gang-related violence. The problem is interpersonal violence can be sparked by a variety of stupidity — from having a guy make a pass at another guy’s girlfriend to drunk daring one another to someone who feels they were disrespected or excluded — all scenarios that can happen at any gathering of young people —

Like on New Year’s Eve.

At the end of a year that saw so much violence in every country of the world, it’s more than ironic that people would think shooting a gun is a peaceful act. After all, the very intent of pulling that trigger is to either stop a life in its tracks or take it.

Shooting a gun should never be confused with celebrating a new year — it’s just a stark reminder of how all our days are numbered.

(Editor’s note: Latina Lista has accepted participation in the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the US media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.)

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