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Shannon’s Law – Arizona

Arizona statutes were changed in 2000 concerning the use of firearms. The statute was named after a fourteen-year-old girl, Shannon Smith in Phoenix, Arizona who was killed by a stray bullet in June 1999. Shannon’s law was only a misdemeanor until the statutes changed in 2000. It is now a felony to discharge a firearm randomly into the air.

No arrests were ever made for the death of Shannon Smith. She was standing in the middle of the backyard talking on her cell phone when a stray bullet went through the top of her head and killed her. The bullet could have been shot within the radius of one mile.

The Arizona Republic, Shannon’s father, Mayor Phil Gordon and County Attorney Rick Romley were the individuals behind a statewide campaign promoting this new legislation; however, they credit the police for making this law work.

The Police

The police have gone beyond their call of duty to carry out the new legislation. They went door-to-door during the holidays to pass out 50,000 fliers and warn residents of this new legislation. They worked with the media, neighborhood groups and schools to stress the importance of not discharging a firearm into the air. Sgt. Thompson said, “In the last 10 years, we have reduced the amount of New Year’s gunfire dramatically. We went from 994 (New Year Eve) shots-fired calls in 1999 to 624 in 2003 and last year to 403.”

Even though an individual charged with this offense has the right to plea bargain with the prosecutor for a misdemeanor rather than a felony, the courts view this offense as dangerous. With dangerous offenses, the individual becomes ineligible for probation according to state law. “This offense requires a prison sentence even for a first offense.”

Equipment to Find the Shooter

ABC News reported that in some cities discharging firearms is common on holidays such as New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July. In the city of Glendale, Arizona the police started using equipment that alerted them to the location where the fire was shot. That night there were only four arrests. Other jurisdictions are looking into obtaining this equipment.

Update on Shootings
Arizona Family reports that despite all the effort of police, some people continue to discharge their firearms on New Year’s Eve. The good news is an 11 percent reduction.

 

If you would like more information on the defense of Shannon’s Law charges in Arizona and would like to schedule a free consultation, please call our offices at (602) 307-0808 or click here to send us an email.

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