Photo by Danny Fulgencio

The Dallas Police Department this year is cracking down on ‘celebratory gunfire’; shooting a gun into the air is a crime punishable by a $4,000 fine and a year in jail, and police are prepared to institute a zero-tolerance policy tomorrow night. They’ve even added special patrols as part of a gunfire reduction program.

“If caught, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” police spokesperson said at a press conference this week.

When the DPD posted a similar warning on a social media page I belong to, a discussion ensued about the actual perils of falling bullets. One contributor argued that more people are killed by hammers than stray bullets and that we should stop spreading fear and lies about guns. Another countered that his home near Lochwood Park has been hit twice by celebratory bullets, that they lodged right into his rooftop and gable.

A bullet traveling two miles into the air can fall back to the ground at 300-700 feet per second, and at 200 feet per second it can break the skin, pierce a skull and kill, police warn (This 2013 Forensicoutreach.com story contains some interesting stats—Cliff Notes: yes, stray, falling bullets can kill).

Fireworks also are illegal and punishable by a $2,000 fine.

Plus, these loud noises freak out the poor dogs in the neighborhood.

Seamus of Lake Highlands (disclosure: he belongs to the author) typically the entirety of New Year’s Eve cowering in a corner.

Several officers from each station Saturday will focus on a New Year’s Eve gunfire reduction program, police say.

Between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. last New Year’s Eve, there were more than 900 calls to 911 regarding random gunfire and illegal fireworks, says public information officer Elaine Page.

“Obviously that night is one of the busiest nights for the Dallas Police Department,” she says, adding that call centers and patrols will be fully staffed. She asks that citizens be diligent about calling in gunfire reports, but when you do, have as much information as possible, she says.

If you call and say, “I heard shots fired in the area,” your report will not be considered a top-tier emergency, she notes. Only if it is actionable — where an officer might drive to a street, intersection, apartment complex or anything else specific — will they be able to follow the lead.  If you actually see someone shooting or participating in other dangerous acts, even better, police say, report the full details.

If you call 911 and are put on hold, please do not hang up, adds officer Page, because operators must return hang-up calls and it taxes the system.

As usual, the police also kick off the holiday weekend with a DWI no-refusal initiative, during which officers will secure a search warrant for a blood sample from anyone arrested for DWI who refuses to give a breath or blood sample.