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Warning Against Firing Weapons Into The Air On New Year's Eve

MIAMI(CBS4)-- If you fire your weapon into the air to celebrate New Year's Eve, you could take someone else's life and you could be sent to prison for a very long time.

That's the warning from lawmakers, activists and police chiefs in Miami-Dade just one day before New Year's Eve.

"I've said it year after year when a bullet goes up in the air, it will definitely come down," said Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson. "Celebratory gunfire can cause harm to persons and property. Gunfire is not the way to settle disputes. If individuals will not settle issues in an intelligent manner, we will take the appropriate measures to address this issue."

Edmonson told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "It is imperative during the holiday season that we lock all guns up and party in a safe manner."

Edmonson spoke out beside a poster for a public awareness campaign featuring the rapper "Pitbull" that noted "One bullet kills the party."

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said, "We are here to plead with people to party like you do but please don't use guns and the police will be vigilant."

Last New Year's Eve, one man was hit by celebratory gunfire. Three years ago, a 6-year-old Italian tourist dining at a Miami restaurant was wounded. Stray bullets have also injured and taken the lives of numerous children in Miami-Dade including Rikiah Isaac.

"I stand before you to ask you to do it safely for this community invites the entire world to come and celebrate," said Miami-Dade Police Chief J.D. Patterson. "We want celebrations to occur in a responsible manner."

"There's no need to use guns to celebrate and there's no need to discharge firearms as a form of celebration," said Patterson. "Celebrate at homes with families and friends but don't let one bullet kill the party."

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said "If you feel like shooting up something, go buy some fireworks but do not use your guns."

Interim Miami Gardens Police Chief Paul Miller said, "Guns are a very violent tool. They must not be used irresponsibly."

Commissioner Edmonson also said Miami-Dade had some of the "highest gun violence in the country" and she said loopholes in the law needed to be closed that ultimately allow too many guns to end up people who should not have them including children.

The public plea follows another plea last Friday in Miami lead by the Reverend Jerome Starling, who said "It might be your grandmother. It might be your brother. It might be your sister show and killed by a gun. I'm begging and pleading that you will put down these guns, stop the violence and understand one mentality: what goes up will come down."

"These aks, these choppers, start to go off at midnight," said Starling. "And I hate to see a family wake up in the morning and a little kid, their little son or daughter has been struck by a bullet."

This is the 16th straight year that law enforcement and community leaders and activists are pleading with the public to put down guns.

Anyone who sees someone firing a weapon recklessly should call 911.

It is illegal. It is a first degree misdemeanor. But it can also mean a variety of charges, depending upon what the arresting officer decides at the time and what happens, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.

Anyone who is caught firing a weapon in to the air could face substantial fines and even time in jail. The time behind bars could be substantial as well if someone is injured or killed.

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