Technically it's called celebratory gunfire.

Realistically it's called insanity.

Hardly a year goes by that The TIMES NEWS police log doesn't contain at least one item about an individual or individuals who are arrested on New Year's Eve for firing gunshots into the air to welcome in the New Year. Illegal fireworks are also used to usher out the old and welcome in the new.

And, while it may seem like harmless fun for some, it could have deadly consequences.

Last year on New Year's Eve in Atlanta 4-year-old Marquel Peters was killed when a bullet fired by a celebrant came through the roof of his church and struck him.

Think about those consequences before you think about loading up the old 12-gauge shotgun and including it in your New Year's festivities.

New Year's Eve falls on a Friday night this year, which is great for the celebrants, and a cause for concern with local authorities. Two full days to sleep off the partying. And that could factor into a lot of situations. Not only do we have the gun slingers, we have the drinkers and drivers.

Police like to call New Year's Eve "amateur night". People who aren't used to drinking excessive quantities of alcohol during the year, let their guard down on this festive night and over-indulge. They don't know how to handle the excess, and the results aren't good. Not only do some drink and drive, and create a deadly situation on our roadways, others get rowdy and combative, and ruin the festivities on other people who are out celebrating the night.

Whether you're celebrating at a bar or club, or at a friend's house, be responsible this New Year's Eve. You can have fun without over-indulging.

If you're going to drink, make sure you have a sober, designated driver, to see that you get home safely.

Keep the shotgun on the gun rack, and pass on the temptation to explode fireworks when the clock strikes twelve.

New Year's Eve is a festive time. For a lot of people, the year 2010 is a year they'd like to forget thanks to some difficult economic times, and the fact that we still have young men and women in harm's way fighting a war in Afghanistan. We see the coming of 2011 as a time for change, hopefully for the better.

But whatever the case, send the old year off in an intelligent way, and welcome in the new with a happy, safe celebration, one that gets 2011 off on the right foot.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]