By Tamas Mondovics

This year’s Fourth of July celebration came and went accompanied by the traditional elements of food, parades and fireworks. One unwelcome addition, particularly on the July 4th weekend celebration, is the illegal and potentially fatal celebratory gunfire which remains a problem. The practice often ends with tragic results as innocent people are hit by the bullets and are injured or killed.

In a recent press release ahead of this holiday season and beyond, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office promised to remain committed to a policy of zero tolerance of illegal gun use to enhance its initiatives to combat gun violence in this community.  

“Our mission is to protect the quality of life for all residents throughout our community by creating an environment of enhanced safety and security,” said Public Information Officer, Debbie Carter.

To help curve the unlawful practice of celebratory gunfire, HCSO has utilized the ShotSpotter gunfire alerts and analysis solution, which is normally used to detect and locate gunfire incidents and gather gunfire intelligence and data to fight crime and violence in Hillsborough County.   

Carter added that this solution provides real-time gunshot location data, enabling informed decisions for faster and more accurate emergency response, while improving intelligence and increasing first responder safety.   

“The ShotSpotter gunfire alert data and intelligence also provides the Sheriff’s Office with more forensic evidence leading to more thorough investigations and increased prosecutions for gun-related crime, in addition to enhancing crime analysis and data-driven policing capabilities, helping improve public safety and security,” she said.

A constant reminder of the tragic consequences of celebratory gunfire is Diego Duran, who is now 17 years old and will be a senior at Lennard High School this coming school year. To reach the final year of high school was a road filled with obstacles and challenges for the student after a he was struck in the head by a stray bullet on the wake of New Year 2012 watching fireworks at home.

The events that followed resulted in the launching of Bullet Free Sky a non-profit organization with one goal in mind; to educate the public and raise awareness on the dangers of Celebratory Gunfire. Since the accident, Diego’s grades continue to improve along with his memory. Visit bit.ly/29yzs6D.