Firing a Gun Into the Air
Too Close to Home
Just this past fourth of July, a seven-year-old boy was hit by a bullet falling from the air and killed. He was walking with his father and other family members through a parking lot to see fireworks at a local lake where neighbors go every year for this purpose. His unsuspecting father initially thought he had tripped when he fell, but later learned the truth.
I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear about this story, having never thought much about this topic. After doing some research, I learned that many people who are celebrating an event sometimes shoot into the air with little thought to the consequences. They clearly do not realize the high risks they are taking when engaging in this dangerous practice.
Celebratory gunfire or aerial firing are terms used to describe firing a gun into the air. This behavior is nothing new. In many parts of the world, it is common practice. According to The Guardian, "Between 1985 and 1992, a group of physicians at the Martin Luther King/Drew medical centre in Los Angeles studied victims of gunshot wounds and identified 118 thought to have been hit by falling bullets." Although seen less often in the United States, it still occurs too often, resulting in injury or death of innocent people.
The Facts About Firing a Gun Into the Air
- Every bullet that is fired up, must come down.
- If you fire a gun into the air, the bullet will travel up to a mile high (depending on the angle of the shot and the power of the gun).
- When fired at an angle, a bullet can travel up to 3 miles.
- Firing a gun into the air is illegal in most states.
- When fired vertically, the bullet's speed when coming down, is less than when it is fired at an angle, however can still be fatal.
- According to Wikipedia, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that 80% of injuries caused by celebratory gunfire are to the head, feet and shoulders.
- One third of celebratory gunfire victims die according to ABC news.
- The deaths from celebratory or aerial fire occurring in the United States, took place: in a residential backyard, in a church (first penetrating the roof), at July 4th fireworks celebrations, and at a New Year's Eve celebration.
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In the horrifying case of Shannon Smith, June 14, 1999, the fourteen year-old girl was struck on the top of her head by a bullet while in her own backyard. "Shannons Law" was created shortly after, making it illegal to discharge a firearm into the air in the state of Arizona.
Deaths Caused by Celebratory Gunfire in U.S.
ABC Action News About the Dangers of Celebratory Gunfire (Firing a Gun Into the Air)
- MythBusters Episode 50: Bullets Fired Up
The MythBusters test if bullets fired up into the air can fall and kill someone plus various vodka myths.
- Ohio freak death: Man fires gun into air, bullet travels over a mile and kills 15-year-old Amish gir
A man cleaning his muzzle-loading rifle shot the gun into the air, accidentally killing a 15-year-old Amish girl driving a horse-drawn buggy more than a mile away, a sheriff said Tuesday.
- BBC News - Who, What, Why: How dangerous is firing a gun into the air?
Libyan rebels have celebrated their advance into Tripoli by firing guns in the air. How hazardous is this practice?
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