Slain girl's mom backs gunfire ban
BY JEFF HAWKES, Staff Writer
After celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve took 10-year-old Aaliyah Boyer's life, her family is supporting a White House petition to ban the dangerous practice.
"People don't realize the bullets got to come down somewhere," Aaliyah's mother, Crystal Blackburn, said. "We want it completely banned."
Aaliyah, a fourth-grader at Manheim's Burgard Elementary School, died two days after she was struck in the head by a falling bullet. The person who fired the fatal shot remains unknown.
Supporters of a ban on celebratory shooting can sign a "We the People" petition at whitehouse.gov, the official White House website. The Obama administration promises an official response to any petition getting 100,000 signatures within 30 days.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the "Aaliyah Law" petition had 146 signatures. The petition expires Feb. 23.
Shooting a gun in the air is against the law in many metropolitan areas, including Lancaster city. But in less populated areas, such as the Elkton, Md., area, where Aaliyah was struck while watching family fireworks just after midnight Jan. 1, the practice is not prohibited.
"We want you to really get in trouble for this, to know it's not a joke," said Blackburn, of Newark, Del.
The petition reads, in part, "Cease celebratory gunfire! This causes too many deaths, including kids. Call it Aaliyah's Law."
It adds, "What goes up must come down. PLEASE don't allow this to happen to your child!!! Aaliyah's Law needs to be passed!!!"
Aaliyah's family didn't initiate the petition, but support it wholeheartedly.
"Whoever started it, it's really great," said Aaliyah's aunt, Dreama Lewis of Quarryville.
The petition website identifies the creator only as K.R. of Federalsburg, Md., which is about two hours south of Elkton.So far, the petition has garnered signatures from as far away as Citrus Heights, Calif., and Eagle River, Alaska.
Blackburn said if petitioning the White House doesn't work, she and family members want to push for bans at the state level.
"We don't plan on giving up," she said. "I don't want my daughter's death to be in vain."