Family wants celebratory gunfire to be felony

Posted at 5:28 PM, Dec 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-29 17:28:41-05

Just about every New Year’s Eve we hear about people firing guns into the air celebrating.

Last year a woman at Busch Gardens was hit in the leg by one of those stray bullets.

In fact dozens of people have been seriously injured or killed by celebratory gunfire across the country.

With New Year ’s Eve less than 48 hours away, Abby Jaeger is on edge reliving what happened a year ago.

“I used to be like, 'Oh fireworks,' and the first thing I think is a bullet,” she said.

Her family, including her 1-year-old son Jack, was nearly killed by a stray bullet that shattered their car windshield shortly after midnight in Gulfport.

“My husband was the one behind me yelling, 'It's a bullet, get out of the car,' so literally we raced inside,” Jaeger said.

Her husband Erich said, “You think about the baby, or my wife getting hit, it doesn't matter who got hit it was anybody at that moment. It was scary, it really was.”

Police discovered a rifle shell casing, predicting it came from a mile away.

So now Jaeger is reminding gun owners to think twice before shooting in the air.

“What goes up must come down. I think people need to be aware of that,” she said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office suggests if you want to celebrate with gunfire, do it safety at a shooting range.

“We want people to utilize firearms in a safe way, but don't go out there and pop up rounds in the air, because most people don't want to accidentally kill somebody,” HCSO spokesman Larry Mckinnon said.

This year Jaeger, with a baby on the way, will be ringing in 2016 at home with her family.

And come January when the legislative session starts, she will be fighting to protect others. She will be working with the nonprofit group Bullet Free Sky to make celebratory gunfire a felony.

“Right now in the state of Florida it's a second-degree misdemeanor. So basically that means, yes you get punished if you’re caught, you can face jail time, but then you're released and you can go out and buy another gun. I don't personally think that's right,” Jaeger said.