Ed Gonzales is a former Houston police officer who is now Mayor Pro-Tem. He says when a gun is fired into the air, the bullet falls back to the ground at speeds between 200 and 400 miles-an-hour.
"Eighty percent of celebratory gunfire injuries are to the head, feet, and shoulders. The mortality rate for persons struck by falling bullets is 32 percent. That's compared to regular gunshot wounds with a mortality rate between two to six percent. So it's pretty dire statistics."
Gonzales says the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve are the two busiest holidays for celebratory gunfire. He adds that no neighborhood is totally immune from that activity. He says people who report random gunfire can help police by getting a good description of the person doing the shooting, if possible. Also, there are ways to report anonymously, for witnesses concerned about retaliation.
"No one wants to come out and kinda point a finger at a neighbor. But that's where we ask that if they see something major that happened, to call Crime Stoppers. They do a great job in receiving anonymous information and tips on major crimes, or any crime. They can call 713-222-TIPS."
If someone is caught shooting a gun in the air, that's a class A Misdemeanor. But if someone is hurt or killed as a result, and the bullet can be traced to the shooter's gun, that person would face a third-degree felony charge.