A family lost their beloved matriarch just minutes into 2020 after a stray bullet resulting from celebratory gunfire to ring in the New Year struck and killed 61-year-old nurse Philippa Ashford in Texas.

For some reason, many Americans feel the need to celebrate occasions by firing their guns. I have personal experience with this. At midnight this New Year’s Eve, the quiet of my rural neighborhood was broken by celebratory gunfire that scared my pets and could have resulted in property damage or bodily harm to anyone who happened to be outside in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is why law enforcement usually warns people not to discharge firearms as a form of celebration, which many gun owners ignore and do anyway, mostly on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July.

Too many people have been killed by illegal celebratory gunfire, including Ashford, who was celebrating the New Year with her family in her driveway when she suddenly clutched her body and proclaimed that she had been shot before dying right there in front of her loved ones.

“At this point from our witnesses and seeing at the scene, we believe this may very well be a case of celebratory gunfire somewhere else in the neighborhood,” Sgt. Ben Beall of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office told ABC 13. “No indication a family member or anyone else in the cul-de-sac was discharging a firearm. I don’t know you can even figure what the odds are. You’ve got the family together, celebrating the new year and now the matriarch of the family is deceased.”

Here’s the report via ABC 13.

Officers have been going house to house in an effort to find bullet casings so they can identify the shooter, who faces a maximum one year in jail and a $4,000 fine just for firing the gun. The death of Ashford means the shooter will face even worse penalties.

And rightfully so. Ashford never did anyone any harm. In fact, she worked to save lives as a nurse, which she will never be able to do again. Her loss will not only have a negative impact on her family, whose New Year has already been ruined by a careless gun owner, her death will also impact the hospital where she worked and the patients she cared for.

This is why we need tighter gun laws instead of a president who panders to the NRA. People who recklessly fire guns into the air should not be allowed to own them. And the fact that gun owners are still doing so even though it is proven that even a bullet fired into the air can kill when it falls, strikes fear into everyone else. Why should anyone go outside to celebrate if they could be cut down by senseless gunfire?

Whoever fired this bullet should immediately come forward and turn him or herself and their gun in to the police. But given the general cowardice of many gun owners who hypocritically preach personal responsibility, it’s likely Ashford’s family will never get justice.

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