Q: I recall reading an article some time ago about shooting guns in the air in Santa Monica. I wanted to know the laws pertaining to firing a gun in the air toward the beach; have these laws changed at all making it OK to do so?

A: The answer is “no.” While law enforcement, in partnership with the community, local businesses and the media, has made an impact on reducing indiscriminate gunfire, the problem persists. The men and women of the Santa Monica Police Department are once again asking the community to celebrate the new year safely and responsibly. Do not fire guns into the air. Remember what goes up, will come down, and when a bullet comes down it is traveling at a fatal velocity, even if the gun is pointed toward the ocean.

Many times individuals involved in celebrating New Year’s Eve with gunfire do not realize the dangers posed by their actions. Researchers report that a bullet fired into the air can climb up to two miles into the air and remain in flight for more than a minute. As it falls, the bullet reaches a velocity of 300 to 700 feet per second. A velocity of only 200 feet per second is sufficient to penetrate the human skull. Each year we need to remind citizens of all the safety hazards and violations associated with firearms and fireworks. Here are a few reasons as to why they are both prohibited.

Facts to know:

n If you are caught shooting a gun into the air you can be charged with a felony. You can spend up to one year in prison if you are caught.

n If you’re arrested for shooting a gun into the air, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

n If a stray bullet from your gun should kill someone, you can be arrested and charged with murder.

If you ever see someone fire a gun into the air, call 911 and give the dispatcher as much information as possible about the shooting. If you only hear gunfire, call (310) 458-8491.

The Santa Monica Police Department seeks your support in persuading all residents of the city not to endanger people by firing guns on New Year’s Eve. Don’t shoot a gun! The life you save may belong to someone you love!

For more information, visit www.santamonicapd.org.

Q: You guys are really good about providing tips on safety. Anything you can share for celebrating the new year safely?

A: Thank you for the compliment and thank you for asking. The Santa Monica Police Department is always here to ensure the safety of its citizens, especially on joyous occasions and celebrations. New Year’s Eve is a huge night for everyone, which means crowds will be swarming toward all of the nightlife this great city has to offer. By simply using some common sense and safety precautions, we can help ensure that we all have a great night and ring in the new year safely!

n Designate a driver: If you are going to be driving during New Year’s Eve, don’t drink and drive. If you have a friend who does not prefer to drink, make sure they take the wheel. You might even look at a local taxi, limousine or designated driver service. Try to avoid driving at all if you can. More people will be driving under the influence on this particular night, so avoid a potentially dangerous accident by staying off the road. Otherwise, be alert and drive defensively. Most importantly, wear your seatbelt!

n Be alert: Be aware of your surroundings and how others are acting. Stay away from those who are out of control and might cause harm. Taking preventive measures is key. If someone is really intoxicated, prevent them from trying to drive or leaving with someone they do not know. It’s important to keep an eye out for each other.

n Stick together: This way we can look out for our friends and family. Going out to parties and nightclubs means a fast-paced, crazy night, so be sure to travel in groups. Having a safety net around you in this environment, especially for women, is imperative.

n Monitor your alcohol Intake: A majority of people will be drinking on New Year’s Eve, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to pay attention to how much you and others are consuming. Drinking too much alcohol can have lethal effects. Be responsible, and one last thing, happy new year from your friends at the Santa Monica Police Department!

This column was prepared by NRO Roberto Lucio (Beat 6: Montana Avenue to Interstate 10, Centinela Avenue to 20th Street). He can be reached at (424) 200-0686 or Roberto.lucio@smgov.net.

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