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With New Year’s Eve approaching, Bullet Free Sky spreads word to celebrate safely

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image Sandy Duran holds an Xray of the bullet that struck her 12-year-old son in the first few moments of 2012 while the family was watching fireworks. Photo Pamela Vasquez

The South County nonprofit organization gears up to help save lives on what has proven to be a dangerous holiday

By Mitch Traphagen
Bullet Free Sky, a South County based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of celebratory gunfire is gearing up for New Year’s Eve and urging people to celebrate safely.

The organization was founded by Sandy Duran, after her son Diego was struck in the head by a falling bullet from celebratory gunfire in the first few moments of 2012 while the family was in the front yard of their Ruskin home watching the fireworks several miles away. Diego spent more than a year in recovery, a process that included several surgeries. The shooter has yet to be apprehended.

On Dec. 17, the organization began running a message on the large electronic billboard on I-75 near the SR 674 exits at Ruskin and Apollo Beach, urging people not to use guns to celebrate the New Year.

Bullet Free Sky billboard

On Friday, the organization announced partnerships with Shooter’s World and with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to further spread the word among gun owners regarding the responsible use of firearms and the extreme dangers of celebratory gunfire.

Dozens of people are injured annually across the United States, with some fatalities. In the Tampa Bay metropolitan area, several people have been injured in the past few years during both New Year’s and Fourth of July celebrations.

“As you know, this irresponsible yet popular practice of firing into the air during the New Year’s Eve celebration often results in someone needlessly being seriously injured or killed by falling bullets,” Bullet Free Sky said in a press release on Friday. “This year, we have teamed up with the owners and management of Shooter’s World because they are also committed as we are in promoting the safe and proper use of firearms.”

In partnering with Shooter’s World, the organization additionally hopes to further stress that their mission is not “anti-gun,” but simply advocating the safe handling and shooting of all firearms.

“Many people still think we are anti-gun,” said founder Sandy Duran.  “Others tell us they do not own guns so our effort doesn’t concern them much. The truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you own a gun or not. Celebratory gunfire affects us all. Anyone under the sky can suffer injuries from hundreds of stray bullets that are shot every year to celebrate here in the U.S.”

The electronic billboard message will run through New Year’s Day and was made possible through a donation by area resident Carol Ann Schultz. The organization’s mission is to educate and work to keep everyone safe from the potentially lethal danger of falling bullets due to celebratory gunfire.

For more information and for how you can help, visit www.bulletfreesky.com or visit the organization on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BulletFreeSky.

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