Holiday firearms safety- Falling Bullet Injuries
The Fourth of July is just around the corner and before you know it we will all be out in the back yard grilling burgers and steaks and setting off fireworks. And every year thousands of Americans break out their favorite shootin’ iron and pop off a few rounds…into the air. Do not fire a gun into the air! Not only is this unwise (okay it’s stupid) but it is also very dangerous!
If the firearm is discharged perfectly vertical it can go up to a mile! Once reaching its apogee, the aerodynamic projectile will fall back to earth at terminal velocity, which is still fast enough to cause serious injury and possibly kill. However, more often the firearm is discharged at an angle and so the projectile actually travels on a ballistic trajectory, and so when it returns to terra firma it has more than ample velocity to KILL!
In many countries such as the Balkans, Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan- its culturally accepted and expected to shoot in the air as a celebration. In American many holidays have people shooting as a celebratory act: New Year’s Day, Christmas, and Eid.
Hard numbers were difficult to obtain, but it would seem that dozens each year are injured in the US and its territories by celebratory gunfire, and as many as 2-3 deaths are caused each year by celebratory gunfire in the US and its territories.
The mortality rate among those struck by falling bullets is about 32% according to Wikipedia. Hundreds of property damage incidences are reportedly caused by celebratory gunfire each year.
Not only is this practice unwise and unsafe, but it is illegal. If caught discharging a firearm into the air you may be charged with a crime and you can be held liable for property damage. If someone is injured or killed and the projectile is traced back to you, you will be charged with a crime, including negligent homicide if the victim dies. "It's dangerous, it's illegal and many people don't realize that if you get caught, you're going to jail," Lt. Bill Hoffman told the Houston Chronicle on UPI.com(United Press International, Inc),
“Random gunfire is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum one year in jail and $4,000 fine in Texas. Anyone who injures or kills someone with a stray bullet could face more serious felony charges.”
So play it safe, shoot fireworks off on the holidays, and don’t fire weapons into the air.
Mythbusters did a show on it using a paintball gun, Episode 50 and the results confirmed it as lethal:
“However, if a bullet is fired upward at a non-vertical angle (a far more probable possibility), it will maintain its spin and will reach a high enough speed to be lethal on impact. Because of this potentiality, firing a gun into the air is illegal in most states, and even in the states that it is legal, it is not recommended by the police. Also the MythBusters were able to identify two people who had been injured by falling bullets, one of them fatally injured. To date, this is the only myth to receive all three ratings at the same time.”
"There are hundreds of millions of gun owners in this country, and not one of them will have an accident today. The only misuse of guns comes in environments where there are drugs, alcohol, bad parents, and undisciplined children. Period."
- Ted Nugent
Mon, June 25, 2012
by Dyann Callahan filed under