NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An East Nashville couple was nearly hit by a stray bullet while they watched the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
“My husband was sitting in this chair and I had just let my dog out,” said Grace Oaks, who lives on South 14th Street. “I was kind of walking towards the chair when we just heard a really loud bang that sounded like it hit metal.”
Oaks saw a deep divot in her metal table and underneath it a bullet.
Her situation is at least the third reported stray bullet incident so far this year for Independence Day.
A Hermitage woman found a bullet next to her bed and a bullet hole in her ceiling Tuesday night, and a Michigan man was watching the fireworks downtown when he was hit in the chest by a stray bullet, which police believe was from celebratory gunfire.
What may be surprising to some is that celebratory gunfire is not illegal in Tennessee.
“Tourists coming to our city and being shot as a result of celebratory gunfire does not seem to be terribly concerning to our lawmakers,” said Beth Joslin Roth with the Safe Tennessee Project. “If a law was passed, I think it would create an awareness about the problem and hopefully it would act as a deterrent.”
News 2 spoke with Bobby Curlee by phone. He’s a firearms instructor for the Department of Homeland Security in Tennessee.
He agrees there should be a law banning celebratory gunfire but says it would be very hard to enforce.
“It would be a long shot, no pun intended, to trace a random bullet to a specific gun,” Curlee said.
Curlee told News 2 a .22 bullet fired at a 45-degree angle can travel up to nearly a mile.
While it would lose speed going up into the air, it would gain speed as it traveled back toward Earth, making the bullet harmful, if not lethal.
“It’s reckless in all regards to point a firearm randomly in the air and discharge it,” he said.
While celebratory gunfire isn’t banned, if a bullet that injures someone is traced back to the shooter, the shooter could be charged with other crimes.
Metro police say they are relying on witnesses to help them solve these three cases of stray bullets in Davidson County.