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Southfield — Gun range owner Bill Kucyk believes in the right to bear arms; what he doesn't believe in is the dangerous ritual of ringing in the new year with gunfire.

As a safeguard, the owner of Action Impact on Eight Mile won't sell ammunition Wednesday at the training center and gun range.

It's an effort to persuade people to abandon the dangerous New Year's Eve custom of shooting guns into the air at midnight.

"I have two problems with that," said Kucyk, a retired police officer with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Army Veteran. "No one knows where the bullets are coming back down. And ... somewhere around midnight, a whole bunch of people are watching a drunk person put a gun in his hand."

He's not the only one trying to end the tradition. The Rev. Nicholas Hood III, pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit, has for the past few years hosted a campaign called "Ring in the New Year with a Bell, Not a Bang" in an effort to reduce accidental gunshots.

Kucyk said many people may be unaware of the dangers of firing a gun into the air, including the odds of a stray bullet hitting a home — with potentially deadly consequences.

"You have no idea where that bullet is going," he said. "We live in very populated areas so the chances of that bullet hitting a home are very, very good.

Plus, "you have the risk of people under the influence having accidental discharges, and then you have people put the gun away still loaded," he said. "They're under the influence, so they're not as aware or safety-minded as they should be."

Hood started his bell-ringing campaign after Sandra Latham was killed on New Year's Eve in 1997 by a stray bullet while sitting in her dining room.

Hood applauded Kucyk for his efforts. But his suspicion is "a lot of the people that frequent the gun ranges may not be the problem," Hood said.

"If a person frequents a gun range, they probably are accustomed to safe gun handling and the discharge of a weapon."

Hood said his campaign's goal is to "sensitize the good, decent people of Detroit who intend no harm to let them know if they shoot a bullet in the air it's going to come down."

He's been supported by other pastors, politicians and law enforcement including Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who also praised Kucyk's efforts.

"Anything that anyone is trying to do to reduce the number of people firing a gun on New Year's Eve is a worthy effort," Napoleon said. "Anything that can help us is worthy of trying."

Kucyk said he has suspended ammunition sales on New Year's Eve since at least 2010, when the city of Southfield gave him an award recognizing his efforts at raising safety awareness. About two years ago, he decided to only sell ammo to be used on-site, during free in-shop range time on New Year's Eve.

Range time costs $10-$35, depending on group size, according to Kucyk. His store will be open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Kucyk said he plans to extend the promotions next year to his store's second location in Eastpointe, which opens in March.

His efforts all started because of fears shared by his customers.

"I've heard in the past that so many people will actually barricade themselves in their basements on New Year's Eve, particularly in Detroit," he said. "They hear gunshots out on their streets."

Kucyk said he hopes the annual promotions will help turn people toward safer firearm use.

"If we do this enough years in a row and gain momentum, maybe in a few years we won't have this issue," he said. "Guns should only be used for sporting or self defense. There's no other reason to be out using your gun."

hfournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

Staff Writer Steve Pardo contributed.

Ringing in the new year

Motor City New Year's Eve 2015 ball drop at Campus Martius and Cadillac Square.

Features live music, food trucks, cash bars, ice skating, horse-drawn carriage rides and wood-burning warming stations.

Event starts at 4 p.m. with face painting, games, karaoke and a ball drop at 6:30 p.m. for children.

The official ball drop starts at 11:59 p.m.

Free entry to the event at 800 Woodward.

For information, call (313) 355-0413 or go to http://motorcitynye.com/

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