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Gunshots or fireworks: Here's how to tell the difference

Gunshots or fireworks: Here’s how to tell the difference

Richardson, Calif. Can you tell if the pop-pop-pop, loud boom or 30 seconds of rapid-fire cracks are gunshots or fireworks?

We sincerely hope you never have to ask this question. Another skill that can keep you safe is being able to quickly tell the difference between gunshots and fireworks and act quickly.

We asked Alicia Moore, who works in the Richmond Police Department’s Public Information Office, how to tell the difference between fireworks and gunshots.


“Gunshots are loud and clear, and they have a rhythm or cadence.”


“Like gunshots, fireworks are very loud, but they don’t happen all the time.” There is a lot of crackling, and before they go off, they sometimes echo or whistle. You can hear how similar they sound. “If you close your eyes and try to imagine beautiful fireworks, you can usually tell just by the rhythm.”

Moore says to call 911 and tell the police that you think you heard gunshots, even if you aren’t sure if what you heard were gunshots or fireworks.


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