COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Fireworks has always been a tradition around certain holidays like Independence Day, but in the smoke of the fireworks are people firing guns into the air.
Police say it’s tough to make out the difference in the sound to the untrained ear, and they’re on high alert.
“We have to check out every one of these calls because like I said, the difference between a gunshot and a firecracker going off. I can’t tell you the difference when I’m at my house or front yard,” says Assistant Chief Gil Slouchick.
Columbus police say they get hundreds of calls around the Independence Day holiday from people reporting sounds of gunshots.
“I don’t know how to distinguish the difference. Gunshots and fireworks sound very much alike,” says Slouchick.
Police are advising you not to shoot firearms into the air this year to celebrate the holiday. In 2018, a car was damaged after bullets rained from the sky only a day after the holiday.
“The bullet doesn’t explode in the air. With a firework, it explodes in fine paper particles. But that bullet has got to come down somewhere,” says Anthony Humphries, lead trainer at the Muscogee County Marshall’s Office.
Recent legislation passed in 2018 only allows residents to fire fireworks up until 11:59 p.m. statewide around the holiday. You can’t fire them within 100 yards of places like hospitals, jails or prisons, gas stations, electric plants or water treatment plants. You can’t fire them in a park, historic site or recreational area that is state property.
Officials say you should always practice safety.