I'm currently in LA, and coming home on the subway today I saw an advert. Four pictures of cute children, surrounded by the slogan "Love them - don't shoot them. Don't fire in the air to celebrate this New Years".
Sadly the train was crowded, and I couldn't figure out a way to surreptitiously take a picture. Happily the LAPD blog came to my rescue and here is a picture of a similar billboard:
I mean, I understand that there's a constitutional right to bear arms and all, but are they really supposed to be used for celebratory purposes? What's next, kalashnikov's to celebrate a wedding? And is it really constitutionally necessary that someone dumb enough to fire guns in the proximity of children is allowed to have one?
Further investigation via the LAPD blog provided good news and bad news. The good news is that the image is slightly disingenuous and that mass deaths of children are not, in fact, an annual New Year phenomenon - the last was in 1999. The bad news is that last year 165 guns were fired in celebration. The worrying bit is that the penalty doesn't really seem to match the gravity of the crime - a maximum of one year in jail. Seriously?! Risking bystanders lives for no reason gets you only a year?! That's it?! The really, really worrying bit, is that they find it necessary to have a 'what comes up must come down' campaign to warn people that firing guns in the proximity of children is a Bad Idea. Maybe just me, but isn't that kind of obvious? And I know the US public school system basically sucks, but doesn't it even cover gravity? Personally I'm looking forward to one of those idiots killing themselves and winning themselves a richly deserved Darwin Award.
I also consider myself lucky to be nowhere near LA this New Year!