In my neck of the woods, New Year’s Eve brings a number of things. For my family, it brings dishes we only really seem to make for the occasion. It comes with some of our family coming over to hang out and watch movies. It also brings the sounds of gunshots echoing through the Southwest Georgia trees.

Every year, I can’t help but remember the need to remind folks not to fire their firearms into the air.

I’m not the only one wanting to remind folks, either.

The University City Police Department is asking celebrants not to fire their guns into the air at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Firing a gun within the city limits is illegal, officials reminded residents via a press release sent Thursday.

“Just firing a gun – that is a crime,” Capt. Fredrick Lemons said in a statement. “No gun can be fired in the city limits. If there is damage to property there can be misdemeanor or even felony charges, and if someone is hit … there are assault charges.”

For the record, it’s illegal here too, but let’s also face it. Unless someone sees them doing it, it’s not likely they’ll get in any trouble.

However, the report continues with the really important part.

When a bullet is fired into the air and then falls back toward the earth, it can reach speeds of 300 to 700 feet per second. A speed of 200 feet per second is enough to penetrate a human skull, police said.

Look, what goes up must come down.

Now, if you fire a gun straight up into the air at a perfect 90 degrees to the ground, at some point the bullet stops traveling at all and starts falling back to the Earth. At that point, terminal velocity kicks in, and you’re probably not going to seriously injure anyone or anything.

But, it’s almost impossible to be 100 percent sure you’re firing at a perfect 90-degree angle. That means you’re creating an arc with the bullet that won’t be coming back to Earth at terminal velocity. That means it can kill.

In fact, it has.

I already know that most people who are knowledgeable about firearms know better than to do this. They know that firing into the air can do very bad things.

But there are a lot of people who own guns who may not know about this. Judging by the amount of gunfire I hear every New Year’s Eve, there are a butt-ton (that’s 1.32 times more than a metric ton, by the way) who don’t.

Instead, I want to talk to those folks who don’t know and don’t understand.

Dear Moron,

I understand that you’re someone who needs to shoot a gun to celebrate. As someone who enjoys firearms as much, if not more, than the average guy, I get it.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

When you shoot a gun into the air, you’re not being remotely safe with your firearm. You’re just shooting to celebrate. The problem is, you could end up killing someone miles away. Yes, miles.

If you have to shoot to bring in the new year, well…first, seek help. If you can’t find any other way to celebrate, you probably need a professional. But beyond that, if you have to shoot, try firing into the dirt. Make sure that it’s actually dirt and you’re not going to hit a rock or something. It’ll be far, far safer for everyone.

And if you accidentally shoot yourself in the foot, maybe it’ll be a good lesson for you to learn that guns are tools for self-defense purposes, or hunting, or even competition, but they’re not meant for you to be a complete and total idiot with them.

Hugs and kisses,

Tom