Wednesday, January 04, 2017

More idiots with guns

Texas State Representative Armando Martinez (D-Welasco) was hit in the head by a stray bullet shortly after midnight on New Year's Day. Fortunately his injuries are not serious, and he is looking into ways to restrict or ban celebratory gunfire as the new legislative session approaches.
Martinez isn't yet sure what the legislation would look like. He spent the time immediately after being shot in the head at Valley Baptist Medical Center. He's since been released. 
But, Martinez told The Texas Tribune that any legislation would definitely involve celebratory gunfire and that he would talk with sheriffs and prosecutors about ideas on how to handle the problem. 
Some states, including Texas, have penalties for injuring someone with joy shots in the air. It's a misdemeanor carrying a $4,000 fine and a year in jail if caught and convicted. Killing someone opens up a shooter to more serious charges.
I empathize with Rep. Martinez, if only because I could have suffered a similar injury about a decade ago: some moron nearby fired a gun into the air, and the bullet landed near to where I was standing at the time.

However, I'm not sure what his proposed ban on celebratory gunfire would accomplish. As the article notes, there are already laws on the books for people who recklessly fire live ammunition into the air.

It also brings up a question that I (who admittedly is not in law enforcement) wonder about: even if you do recover a bullet from a weapon fired in celebration and are able to perform ballistics tests on it, how are you able to actually match it to a weapon in order to secure a conviction? Especially at midnight of the New Year, when legions of idiots are firing their guns into the air? (Seriously: much of Houston turns into Stalingrad at the stroke of midnight every January 1st.) How does law enforcement determine who shot the offending bullet, at least with enough precision for a judge to issue a search warrant so that police can recover, test and match a suspected firearm?

The point being: even if Rep. Martinez's proposed legislation against celebratory gunfire did cover something that's not already on the books in the State of Texas, it seems that prosecuting and convicting somebody for celebratory New Year's gunfire would be a difficult task. You'd practically have to catch them in the act of shooting.

With all that said, firing live ammunition into the air is stupid. It is reckless and lethal, and nobody who truly considers themselves a "responsible" gun owner would do such a thing.

So just stop doing it, people.

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