Richmond observed Independence Day weekend the traditional way: with three big fireworks shows, lots of backyard bottle rockets, and 79 reports of random gunfire.
Complaints about gunshots actually exceeded complaints about fireworks, according to reports from Richmond police. From 12 a.m. July 2 through 3 a.m. July 5, police got 79 calls about gunfire and 29 about fireworks.
That’s slightly up from last year, when 76 gunfire calls and 10 fireworks calls came in over the same 3-day weekend period. In 2010, police arrested two people for “loud and disturbing noise;” two people for possession of a concealed weapon; one for discharging a firearm in a public place; and one for reckless handling of a firearm. Arrest information for 2011 isn’t yet available.
It’s illegal for anyone to sell or explode fireworks in the city, unless they’re part of an official public display. Police say they don’t have any information on where Richmonders obtain their pyrotechnics.
Fireworks are sold in some jurisdictions, such as Powhatan and Hanover counties, but they tend to be tame fountains and sparklers. The Jabs Fireworks megastore off I-95, just over the South Carolina border, may be the nearest place to buy mortars, rockets and repeaters that hit the 500-gram federal limit for gunpowder in consumer fireworks. Not that we would know anything about that.