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Austin woman finds bullet in yard after celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve

Last week, a Texas state representative introduced a bill to address celebratory or reckless gunfire and expand penalties.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin mom said she was frightened to find a bullet on her property from celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve.

It comes as a Texas lawmaker has already filed a bill to push for change and address the dangerous activity.

"It was right about here," Andrea Kaplan-Chambers said. "This is where I picked it up." 

Kaplan-Chambers has lived in the Quail Creek neighborhood for about five years. 

"This year, in particular, was very loud," she said. "I heard the two types of fireworks. One is the loud boom, the other is kind of that crinkly sound, and then I also definitely heard gunshots during the night." 

It's a dangerous way to ring in the new year – celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve. A bullet that went up came down literally too close to home.

"Just seeing it on my path, like on my property with my son, was very jarring," Kaplan-Chambers said. "I don't want bullets to be near him."

Her 3-year-old's room was not far from where the bullet landed.

"He sleeps right at the front," Kaplan-Chambers said.

Others shared their stories of close calls with stray bullets on social media Sunday.

Bill Kennedy, a resident in the same neighborhood as Kaplan-Chambers, found a stray bullet that went through his ceiling on New Year's Eve. 

Credit: Bill Kennedy

Right now, celebratory or reckless gunfire is illegal in Texas cities with a population of 100,000 or more. It's a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $4,000.

State Rep. Armando Martinez introduced House Bill 1138 last week to address celebratory gunfire. If House Bill 1138 passes this year, it would expand the current law to all areas of Texas, no matter the size.

In 2016, Martinez was shot in the head by a stray bullet on New Year's Eve. Since then, he has also filed bills to make the reckless discharge of a firearm a felony if someone was injured or killed. None of the bills were successful. 

"I just want gun owners to be more responsible and more aware of the power that they have in operating these things," Kaplan-Chambers said.

Until then, Kaplan-Chambers said she won't have the benefit of celebrating these types of holidays in her own yard. 

Advocacy group Texas Gun Sense said it wants to see Martinez's current bill and a version of the old one pass this year.

Texas Gun Sense sent KVUE the following statement:

"Every holiday season, police departments spread awareness about the dangers of celebratory gunfire, which kills dozens each year. Unfortunately, in Texas, some families' lives have been tragically and forever changed by preventable deaths caused by firing guns in the air during holidays. We recommend that the Texas Legislature make celebratory gunfire illegal in all parts of the state and strengthen penalties, and that gun owners heed warnings from law enforcement."

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