John Romano: In the Stupid Capital of America, people can't stop firing guns for fun

Some things should not have to be said over and over.

Obvious things, like don't touch the stove. Or, look both ways. Or, don't fire your gun haphazardly in the air to show the world how happy you are.

Alas, here in the Land of Perpetual Morons, common sense is not quite as common as you might expect. And so, once again, we are talking about how giddy and gunfire do not mix.

In case you missed it, a woman watching a fireworks display from the balcony of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club was hit by a wayward bullet Monday night.

That makes at least four times in the past year that a Hillsborough or Pinellas County resident has been hit by a falling bullet in the name of celebration. That would include two bullets in a head or face, one in a wrist and one in a back since Jan. 1, 2012.

Happy Freakin' New Year.

This has become so dangerous and idiotic and avoidable that it defies rational argument. I mean, what's the possible justification? Yippee, and take cover?

What's worse is I'm not sure there is an easy solution.

As much as some people might want to blame the proliferation of guns in America, the reality is those numbers are not going to change any time soon.

And the randomness of these celebratory gunshots makes it exceedingly difficult for law enforcement to stop it ahead of time.

Appealing to the goodwill of the populace also seems like a losing effort since public service announcements and news conferences haven't made us any safer.

So what's that leave?

Not a lot.

I suppose you could argue that harsher laws are in order, but I'm not sure how much impact that would have.

"It would probably be a deterrent to some people,'' said Bruce Bartlett, chief assistant state attorney for the Pinellas-Pasco district. "But the kind of people shooting guns on New Year's probably aren't smart enough to figure that out.''

Under current state laws, a person shooting a gun in the air in celebration would likely be charged with improper exhibition of a firearm and/or discharging a firearm in public. Both are first-degree misdemeanors, which puts them in slap-on-the-wrist territory.

So, yeah, legislators might want to consider the possibility of making celebratory gunfire a second-degree felony, as it is for shooting out of a vehicle. If we're considering new bans on texting in the car, then additional restrictions on firing weapons seems fairly reasonable.

Who knows, maybe people would be more inclined to warn their idiot friends and relatives if they are aware that a stiff jail sentence is a possibility whether a bullet hits someone or not.

But I don't have much hope for that.

If it wasn't enough that an 11-year-old was killed in Kansas City, Mo., on the Fourth of July in 2011, or that a 7-year-old was shot in the stomach on New Year's Eve in Oregon last year, or that a 4-year-old was killed in a Georgia church just after New Year's a few years ago or that an 8-year-old had a bullet hit him in the foot on Monday night in Jacksonville or that a 12-year-old from Ruskin nearly died after a bullet hit him in the head last New Year's, then I don't think the threat of more punitive laws will help.

That means, in the end, we have to depend on these morons just getting smarter.

Scary, huh?

John Romano: In the Stupid Capital of America, people can't stop firing guns for fun 01/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 8:51pm]

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