Automated system will listen for celebratory gunfire

- There are many ways to celebrate Independence Day safely, and it should go without saying that shooting a gun into the air is not one of them.  But every year -- twice a year, in fact -- law enforcement has to remind people of just how dangerous and illegal celebratory gunfire is.

In January, two people in our area were wounded by stray bullets fired on New Year’s Eve, and it happens around the Fourth of July as well.  In 2012, a Ruskin teenager was hit in the head by a falling bullet; miraculously, he survived

This year, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will be using its ShotSpotter technology to track down anyone who decides to fire off a few rounds. 

The system uses sensors set up around the county to pick up sound waves from a gunshot, then pinpoints the location and sends it to law enforcement. It can distinguish between fireworks and gunfire.

Anyone caught firing off a gun just for fun on the fourth will be facing some less-than-fun consequences: Discharging a firearm in public is a misdemeanor, and if you've been drinking, that's another charge. Law enforcement warns they have a zero-tolerance policy about celebratory gunfire this weekend.

If you hear gunfire or see anything suspicious, please contact your local law enforcement immediately.

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