MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In just a few days, South Florida will ring in a new year and local leaders are once again pleading with area residents to put the guns down, especially at midnight.
On Thursday, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson were joined by a host of law enforcement at the semi-annual “One Bullet Kills The Party” press event.
“We do not need to celebrate by shooting guns in the air. Because when a bullet goes up. It must come down,” said Edmonson.
Edmonson added that in addition to not firing a gun into the air, it was also time for not shooting each other.
Just days ago Dynette Early, a mother of three, was shot and killed outside her home in Liberty City.
“We have three children, three siblings whose mother was recently a victim of gun violence. It definitely hits home because these children are already dealing with struggles and things we couldn’t even imagine as adults,” said Lakiesha Hall, an administrator at the Meyga Learning Center.
The twice a year “One Bullet Kills The Party” event (also held before the July 4th holiday) started after a stray bullet landed on a party years ago in Overtown.
“If you shoot a gun, it just don’t hurt one person. Even if they’re not the intended target. It hurts a whole family. It hurts a community,” said Samantha Quarterman.
In recent years in the City of Miami, stray bullets have not been a problem. City officials believe this campaign is the reason why. But they don’t want that record to be ruined by an injury or death this holiday.
Even if you fire your gun and no ones hurt, Mayor Suarez said don’t be surprised when officers show up at your door.
“We want to let people know that we have a gun fire detection system now that cover 80 percent of the city. If you do do it, we will catch you and we’re going to hold you responsible because we believe the risk to life is too great,” said Suarez.
The shot spotting technology, by the way, can tell the difference between gun shots and fireworks.
Suarez credits shot spotting technology and the city’s police officers for a decreased the city’s homicide rates to a 50 year low. In 2018 there were 47 gun related deaths, that’s down from 57 a year ago.
“I’m very proud of our police department. I issued the challenge to them this year to try to reduce our homicide rate by five percent. Right now we’re very close to 20 percent,” said Suarez.
Firing a weapon into the air within county limits is not only dangerous but illegal. It is a first-degree misdemeanor. Anyone who is caught firing a weapon into 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.