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Loose gun laws, drugs, and social media play role in house party shootings, experts say

Unlike at a bar club or restaurant, there’s no one at the front door at house parties checking for weapons and limiting who can come in and out.

TEMPE, Ariz — It’s a problem that's popped up in many parts of the valley: Large gatherings, and house parties that end in violent shootings, often with people killed at the scene.

The latest incident happened early Saturday morning in a Tempe neighborhood near University and Hardy drives.

Dozens of bullets were fired at a home rented through Airbnb for a Halloween party at around 3:30 a.m., police said.

In a matter of seconds, a barrage of bullets filled the neighborhood, as the sound of shots sent people scrambling.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Police: Gunfire at Airbnb house party in Tempe, no injuries reported

While it caught some off guard, the scene is not new to law enforcement across the Valley, who have been trying to stop shootings at house parties and other large events.

"Strangers come, strangers congregate, strangers get into an argument, strangers get high, strangers end up shooting each other and everybody scatters, " law enforcement expert Art Acevedo said.

Acevedo has 35 years of law enforcement experience and has been Chief of Police in Houston, Miami, and Austin. He said there’s a combination of factors that contribute to the house party shootings being seen in the Valley.

“You have all of these people with access to guns because of Arizona’s loose gun laws," Acevedo said. 

"You have people with firearms, then you add on people using drugs and alcohol, and then there’s an abundance of short-term rentals with not a lot of regulations, and it’s a perfect storm, a perfect opportunity for these tragedies to happen."

Many of the parties are reportedly posted on social media sites, which brings in a large group of strangers. Unlike at a bar club or restaurant, there’s no one at the front door at house parties checking for weapons and limiting who can come in and out.

"When you don't have tight licensing requirements, when you don't have a good solid oversight, it's easy for these things to pop up," Acevedo said.

Justice can be hard to come by for families who have lost loved ones due to violence at house parties. Despite hundreds of witnesses who are available, Acevedo said solving these cases is intense and requires a lot of leg work.

RELATED: Airbnb's party restrictions are working, and there are more on the way for Halloween

Often, witnesses at the parties don’t come forward to share information, and there’s often a lack of available clues for detectives  

"Unlike in a business establishment where there's a lot of cameras, potentially automatic license plate readers," Acevedo said. "There's a lot of data law enforcement officers can glean and look through sometimes you don't have that at these parties and that makes it difficult." 

If you notice a house party happening at a short-term rental, he said you should call the police immediately. Many of the homes being rented out are owned by investment groups out of state but are monitored by local management groups.

“We’re not just talking one or two homes or a single homeowner," Acevedo said. "When you don't have tight licensing requirements when you don't have a good solid oversight it's easy for these things to pop up."

People who are having legitimate family gatherings should not post or advertise on social media to avoid random strangers appearing.

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