RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Local public safety officials are reminding the community that there are a number of safe ways to celebrate Fourth of July, but celebratory gunfire is not one of them.
“What goes up, must come down,” Matthew Pecka of Henrico Police Department said.
Pecka said celebratory gunfire is not a victimless act. It can be dangerous, deadly — and it’s also highly illegal.
Brendon’s Law went into effect in 2014, the year after a stray bullet struck and killed 7-year-old Brendon Mackey on his way to a fireworks show in Chesterfield County on July 4, 2013.
The law heightens the severity of punishment for anyone caught recklessly shooting a gun. Those who partake in celebratory gunfire could face jail time.
Not only is celebratory gunfire illegal, it’s also scary for the community. 8News spoke with new Richmond resident Stefanie Cillo, who said she’s excited for the holiday weekend, but is hopeful that people will celebrate responsibly.
“I have my own dog and stuff, and people have kids and close loved ones,” Cillo said. “Just as a celebration, to be doing that, it’s really just unsafe.”
Cillo feels there are a number of better — safer— ways to enjoy the holiday, and that the sound of a gunshot can be replicated in non-life-threatening ways.
“There’s a different way to make that celebratory sound,” Cillo said. “You don’t want to lose someone over that reason, celebratory or not.”
Regarding the 2014 case of Brendon Mackey, Cillo believes it’s the entire community’s responsibility to make sure nothing like that happens again to any other children.
“I think we should come together and prevent those things because that is a child,” Cillo said.