News & Politics

Virginia Bill Would Outlaw Celebratory Gunfire

Yes, really.

If you aim for the sky, gravity will eventually take over. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Members of the Virginia Senate are planning to introduce a bill in the upcoming session that would criminalize the act of firing a gun into the air because it’s a fun party trick. Believe it or not, this is something Virginia is addressing in 2014, and only after a tragic incident last summer.

The bill, reports the Virginian-Pilot, is called “Brendon’s Law” after Brendon Mackey, a 7-year-old boy from Chesterfield County, near Richmond, who was killed last July 4 after he was struck by a stray .40-caliber bullet that fell from the sky. Police believe the bullet came from the gun of someone popping off a shot for Independence Day, and months later have still not identified who fired it.

Currently, Virginia law classifies shooting a gun into the air without a target is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine. “Brendon’s Law” would make it a felony punishable with between one and five years in prison, or between five and 40 years if such gunfire resulted in a death.

“Shooting a gun has consequences,” the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Henry Marsh, told the Virginian-Pilot. “When you shoot up, the bullet is eventually going to come down.”

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.

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