Philadelphia, PA

This 4th of July, Please Stop Celebratory Gunshots!

Teressa P.

This is another dangerous American tradition that needs to end

I live in Philadelphia and for years I sought shelter in suburban or “nicer neighborhoods before New Year’s and 4th of July in fear of celebratory gunfire. I thought this was an American tradition, but apparently, this tradition is worldwide.

Living in America, I’ve noticed it’s gotten worse over the years and I can’t seem to escape celebratory gunfire. I knew it was getting worse when I visited friends in different states and started hearing gunshots in more affluent neighborhoods and sadly every year people are injured and killed.

When I was a young teacher, 20+ years ago a parent told me how she almost lost her son after a stray bullet from her neighbor’s gun shattered her back car window. She said the bullet landed inches from her 4-year-old son who was buckled in his car seat.

I’ll never forget the panic on her face recalling the incident where she described frantically trying to get her son out of the car, praying that he wasn’t shot or injured from the shattered glass.

She said instead of ducking for cover, she instinctively grabbed her son, ran into the house checked to see if he was ok, and then confronted the neighbor. Her husband tried to stop her, but she said she screamed, “You almost killed our son, bullets don’t disappear — when you shoot them in the air, they come down and one of yours landed in my car.”

She said the neighbor initially denied it but then apologized.

She said she cried half the night and the next day she and her son temporarily moved to her mother’s house in New Jersey and demanded that they move to a neighboring state in a better neighborhood. They moved shortly after that incident.

Years later, I have my own traumatic memories of ducking for cover, hiding, hoping, and praying a celebratory bullet wouldn't hit me and my child. I've literally laid in tubs and used my body as a shield waiting to hear the gunshots stop.

I’ve been in some nice neighborhoods in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and other states and I still heard gunshots from handguns and automatic weapons.

It’s a terrifying and dangerous tradition that really needs to stop.

I recall a few years ago, Philly launched a campaign against celebratory gunshots and it was quiet for the most part, but the next year it was back.

What makes it so obnoxious and dangerous is the fact that people are shooting in densely populated, residential areas.

My student's parents had the financial means to move, but most people don’t . And the reality is guns are a part of American culture, tradition, and politics so you can’t escape them.

I grew up in a house with guns and was taught gun safety, but I also have family members that were victims of gun violence, so guns are a touchy subject for me.

I believe in everyone’s right to defend their home, but celebratory gunshots need to stop - especially in cities where the falling bullets can hurt or kill innocent people and children and damage property.

I'm lucky - I only have bad memories and my student's family only had to replace a windshield - but far too many have lost their lives to this dangerous tradition.

This 4th of July - I hope I only see and hear the beautiful fireworks - not avoid a shower of bullets.

Thank you for reading.

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Philadelphia, PA
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