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State Rep. files house bill that would criminalize celebratory gunfire, if passed

State Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez filed House Bill 2583 Tuesday that would make the practice of firing off a weapon a class A misdemeanor, if passed.

The file comes after a plan to crackdown on celebratory gunfire when the District 39 representative was struck by a stray bullet on New Year's Eve.

“I've been contacted by countless individuals who say that it is time to end this senseless and wholly preventable act," Martinez said.

If a bullet were to injure or kill someone, charges would then be upgraded to a first-degree felony.

The only exception would be if the user were shooting blanks, legally hunting or at a shooting range.

Starr County has seen a rise in incidents related to celebratory gunfire, and law enforcement hopes the bill passes.

"It’s very sad that you can’t have your kids outside playing at a certain time because you’re afraid somebody is going to be shooting at a distance, and the last thing you want is one of your family members, or yourself, to get hurt,” said Assistant Chief of Police for Rio Grande City, Jose Solis.

One of the county’s assistant district attorneys was nearly struck by a stray bullet this past New Year's, as well. Assistant district attorney Martie Vela told CBS 4 News that the district attorney's office plans to create a watch program.

"We want to be able to have our eyes and ears in the areas where this action is taking place," Vela said. "What better way than the local neighborhoods to have somebody there.”

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