9mm Semi-Automatic New Year

I’m a Yankee. Where I come from, the New Year gets rung in mostly with drinking. On the best nights, we’d party hop, wandering from one person’s house to another, stopping in at the parties of downstairs neighbors we didn’t know and spending twenty-minute portions of the year’s last night with strangers. The moment when you’re talking to somebody you don’t know, in an apartment you don’t know, and you both admit that you don’t know who’s home you’re in — I love that.

Last night, we spent a quiet New Year’s Eve at a friends house in Sylvan Hills. Driving to their place early in the evening, it was all over-the-counter fireworks and Roman candles, which I guess is par for New Year’s down here. Last year we waved goodbye to 2005 in a rented cabin in North Carolina. The year before, we spent it lost on the road trying to get to a friend’s house near-ish Hilton Head. So this was my first Atlanta New Year and my first with the firecrackers.

Then, at five minutes past midnight, the pop of firecrackers was replaced with the pop-pop-pop of small-arms fire. And lots of it. We’re talking about semi-automatic weapons with nice, smooth trigger pulls, sometimes two or three weapons going at once. Five, six, eight rounds were getting squeezed off in eager volleys. Farther off, more shots answered back — call and response for the 21st century.

On the one hand, I’m pretty old-school when it comes to gun rights and personal freedoms. If you want to fire your Glock in your garage on New Year’s Eve, who am I to say you can’t? On the other hand, it’s New Year’s Eve, so you’ve been drinking, right? And it sounds like you’re not so much in your garage and on your lawn, and those slugs have gotta land somewhere, right?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fear for my wife’s life a little bit. She sits down by the window and I think about how a stray bullet won’t come through in a spray of slo-mo glass that I can dive through to save her. (Also, I think about how I am not John McClane and never will be.)

The 12:40am finale was what sounded like a pistol being fired to cover for the report of something a little bit bigger and a little more fully automatic. (I’m no expert.) Nobody got hurt, nobody got killed, nobody’s dog got shot. So I guess it was a happy New Year for everybody.

But since this was my first New Year’s in Atlanta, I have to ask: Is this typical?

10 Comments so far

  1. Lori (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 6:07 am
  2. George Burdell (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 8:47 am

    A friend got shot in the shoulder by a gun fired straight in the air at underground a few years ago.
    It really does happen.

  3. hofo (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 9:38 am

    I heard more of that this year than I can remember hearing in the past. I think this greatly depends on the neighborhood you’re in. What part of town are you in? I’m in the East Atlanta Village.

  4. jam (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 10:35 am

    Yes this is typical. I remember growing up and seeing dudes break out their pistols on New Year’s. It was a bit scary.

    There were reports of bullets falling back into the Georgia Dome when bowl games were played there on New Year’s Eve. Several people were injured over the years as bullets fired from guns ‘in the hood’ dropped back into the dome.

    I remember in Grant Park a few years ago it sounded like a full on gun battle. I was in Grant Park again this year and I didn’t hear much of it.

    After all this is north Georgia where in Cherokee County it’s law that you must own a gun in your house.

  5. Andisheh Nouraee (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

    I live in Capitol View, which is adjacent to Sylvan Hills.

    I, and many of my neighbors, make a point of not being home on New Year’s, precisely for the reasons you describe. Southwest Atlanta has more than its fair share idiots and assholes who either don’t know or don’t care that bullets fired straight in the air will land.

    The first year I lived here, I asked one of the neighborhood kids what his family planned to do for New Year’s. He said that his dad was going to step outside and fire his gun.

    FYI — if you call 911 and say, “I hear gunfire on my street,” they will treat your call as a very low priority. If you’re lucky, a patrol car will drive up and down your street in response.

    You have to give them the address where the weapon is being fired, or name of the shooter, or the car they’re driving.

  6. Kevin (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

    I was in East Atlanta a few years ago and experienced the same situation. I’d say it’s typical for some parts of the city, not for others.

  7. atlpaddy (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

    Its a black thing…you wouldn’t understand.

  8. Jaye (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

    Unfortunately, it does seem to be a “black thing.” And by the way, I’m black and I don’t understand it at all!

  9. Smoove D (unregistered) on January 6th, 2007 @ 2:28 am

    Y’all carpetbagging yankees go home!

  10. TC (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

    Ghetto is as ghetto does.

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