On New Year’s Eve, I heard what seemed like hundreds of gunshots in the distance from our home. It was difficult for me to sleep and I woke up several times to check on our boys, who were in their room sleeping. More often than people think, tragedies occur every year from celebratory gunfire.
As the shots fired in the night sky, I thought about 4-year-old Marquel Peters, who was killed in an Atlanta-area church by a single bullet on New Year’s Day in 2010. The stray bullet came through the roof of the sanctuary and struck Marquel in the top of his head. The bullet was believed to have been from celebratory gunfire.
Most recently this year, Diego Duran, 12-year-old, was shot by a stray bullet on New Year's Eve and is currently in serious condition at Tampa General Hospital. Family members and friends have set up a Facebook page with updates on his status.
In the hopes of ending and educating the extended community on celebratory gunfire, Marquel’s family created a community campaign, Marquel’s Pledge. The pledge's mission is to help reduce celebratory gunfire in DeKalb County and throughout Georgia. Information provided on the campaign's website indicates that their goals are two-pronged:
- First, in an effort to prevent additional tragedies from occurring due to this dangerous and reckless behavior, the county is encouraging ammunition dealers to refrain from selling bullets on the days leading up to the 4th of July, New Year’s Eve, and other holidays.
- Secondly, the county is working with citizens, neighborhood groups, community organizations, churches, and businesses, to educate their neighbors, community and patrons about the dangers of celebratory gunfire and to encourage citizens to refrain from this dangerous practice, which we now know could lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
After Marquel’s death several companies have agreed not to sell ammunition during particular holidays. The long-term goals range from encouraging citizens to education their neighbors about the dangers of celebratory gunfire to working with legislators to establish laws that have stiffer penalties on those who fire weapons.
For more information about Marquel's pledge, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marquels-Pledge/138970346148031.
For more information about Diego Duran, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofdiegoduran.
Sojourner Marable Grimmett is an Atlanta-based author who is recognized for writing about the joys and challenges of being a “stay-at-work” mom and connects with moms, both new and experienced, who have the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a full-time job. Visit her blog sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook. Also join her new campaign to support establishing lactation rooms in public places.
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