Shannon’s Law – The Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm: A.R.S. 13-3107
In 1999, fourteen-year-old Shannon Smith was struck in the head by a stray bullet while in her own backyard in central Phoenix. The bullet was estimated to have been fired from a half-mile away, as reported by 12 News. Shannon died as a result of her injury. As of 2023, the case is cold, with the individual who fired the bullet having never been located.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office reported that Shannon’s parents worked in cooperation with local organizations, law enforcement, politicians, and attorneys to make firing a gun into the air a felony. At the time of Shannon’s death, it was only a misdemeanor.
In 2020, “Shannon’s Law” was passed, making firing a gun into the air a class 6 felony according to the new A.R.S. 13-3107. As Officer Kristopher Babros, of the Peoria Police Department, stated, “Don’t shoot a gun into the air. Because whatever goes up has to come down.” Shannon’s Law hopes to prevent accidental deaths like that of Shannon Smith and serves as a reminder that even celebratory gunfire around holidays such as the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve has serious consequences.
According to this statute, a person who, with criminal negligence, discharges a firearm within or into the limits of any municipality is guilty of a class 6 felony.
A.R.S. 13-3107 does not apply to:
- Firearm discharge on a properly supervised range.
- To lawfully take wildlife according to Arizona Game and Fish commission rules and orders.
- For the control of nuisance wildlife by permit from the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- By special permit of the chief of police.
- As required by an animal control officer.
- Firearm discharge that uses blanks.
- Firearm discharge more than one mile from any occupied structure.
- In self-defense or defense of another person against an animal attack.
Class 6 felonies can result in incarceration of up to two years for first-time offenders.
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