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In wake of holiday weekend shootings, experts differentiate pops of gunshots from pops of fireworks

"Public safety understands that no one is a professional at being able to tell the difference."

AUSTIN, Texas — On the Fourth of July, a shooter killed half a dozen people in Highland Park, Illinois, while two separate shootings happened in Austin in the overnight hours leading into the holiday.

Many people celebrate Fourth of July, but this year, many are mourning as well.

When firework holidays like the Fourth of July or New Years Eve come each year, many on social media wonder if they're hearing gunshots or fireworks set off in their neighborhoods.

"This is a question that that firefighters get all the time," Lake Travis Firefighters Association President Braden Frame said. "The best thing to think about is that fireworks sometime will be rapid, fast and random. They're very quick. You have that pop, pop, pop and then that kind of sizzle afterwards. When we think about gunfire, though, it's more of a consistent sound. It's a clear, crisp shot, that pop, pop, pop. Especially at night, you won't see smoke. You won't see light after gunshots. This isn't like the movies, and smoke is almost always associated in these cases this time of year with someone lighting off fireworks."

Frame added at-home fireworks always yield danger as first responders get calls all through the night due to injuries.

"At-home fireworks every year cause a ton of injuries, thousands of injuries, mangled hands, hurt kids, hurt animals," Frame said.

However, Frame would rather have somebody call emergency personnel if they think something unsafe is happening rather than guess if something is a firework or gunshot.

"Just call 911 to err on the safe side," Frame said. "Public safety understands that no one is a professional at being able to tell the difference … Anybody who's even thinking about firing a gun up in the air should know that there have been many documented cases of bullet fragments falling to the ground and injuring innocent people just in the neighborhood who weren't even associated with the event. And so that's really something that that's not just illegal, but also can cause a lot of real serious harm."

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