'No New Year celebratory gunfire,' Lebanese police warn revelers
Lebanese police say they will punish anyone who is caught firing weapons during New Year's festivities this year, following a number of accidental deaths caused by celebratory gunfire.
Anyone found guilty of firing into the air could spend between three months and six years in jail, pay a fine between eight and ten times the minimum wage in Lebanon, and have their weapon confiscated.
Tougher punishments are in place for celebratory gunfire that leads to deaths or injuries.
Licenses for guns have been suspended over Christmas and New Year for security reasons and to prevent celebratory gunfire during the holidays.
The ban has been in place since 22 December and will only be lifted on 2 January, after Christmas and New Year's celebrations end.
"The Lebanese army units will ensure the security of Lebanese areas as they prepare for Christmas festivities to protect the security and safety of its citizens, religious gatherings and places and secure shopping, tourist and economic facilities," the Lebanese police said in a statement.
"Citizens are kindly asked to refrain from firing on New Year’s Eve for the safety of all."
Celebratory gunfire has been fairly common at weddings, funerals, political rallies and religious festivals across the region, although less so in recent years.
Lebanon, known for its huge number of legal and illegal weapons, is no exception.
Stricter licensing laws and bans on celebratory gunfire have led to a slump in sales for arms dealers in Lebanon, Buzzfeed reported earlier this year.
Lebanon was once awash with guns during and following the country's civil war.