What goes up must come down

DURHAM While it may seem like a harmless tradition, experts say it's anything but. That's because of the old proverb that says "what comes up must come down."

Many think that a bullet fired in the air falls harmlessly because it's so small, but that's not the case. According to experts, a round fired from a medium-caliber handgun can fall back to Earth at 150 mph and up to 2 1/2 miles from where it was fired. At such a speed, falling bullets can easily kill a person or become lodged in buildings and cars.

That’s what happened in Los Angeles in 1999 when a man was killed by a falling bullet just after midnight on New Year's Day.

While nobody in the Raleigh/Durham area was hurt this year, there were plenty of injuries across the country. In Santa Ana, California, a man celebrating outside was hit in the ankle. In New Orleans, a man had a close call when a bullet grazed his back, and in Dallas, two women sitting in a car at a stop light got a scare when a bullet shattered their windshield.

Police across the country generally report that the number of calls about gunfire were slightly lower this year, but all it takes is one bullet to kill someone.

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