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Firing a Gun Into the Air

Updated on February 22, 2015
Rosie writes profile image

Rosie was an elementary school teacher for 13 years, teaching grades 3-5. She is now a library media specialist in an elementary school.


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.

Concerned Citizen

Celebratory Gunfire

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.

Anonymous Poll

Have you ever fired a gun into the air?

See results

Shannon's Law

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.

7, boy
34, woman
15, girl
28, woman
New York
14, girl
31, woman

ABC Action News About the Dangers of Celebratory Gunfire (Firing a Gun Into the Air)


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    • Laura335 profile image

      Laura Smith 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      I'm always reminded of the book, "Things Fall Apart". Ever since I read it, I get nervous when I see people firing guns into the air.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 3 years ago from United States

      I had no idea that people would do this on the 4th until I was interviewed a couple of years ago right before the holiday by a local paper who wanted to know what I thought of this practice. Crazy!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      You would hope people had more common sense, but unfortunately...some don't. Good reminder to those who lack the sense.

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 3 years ago from Central USA

      I will not own a gun and I wouldn't own one if you paid for it and gave me cash every month. I hate the fact that they passed the concealed carry law. Now, anyone can have one and that to me freaks me out. What if I am at the restaurant with my family and someone gets a hair to start shooting? All these people will have a gun on them so now you are talking of a huge shoot out possibly.or.........could it go the other way? could it really slow down shootings since no one knows who has one and who doesn't?

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting DzyMsLizzy! Hope you have a happy July 4th.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congratulations on HOTD!

      Excellent and timely article! I'm sharing this everywhere I can!

      I have never done such a thing, and would not. In fact, I refuse to even own a gun.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and wishing for an "important" button!!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      Momsdoworkathome, thanks for commenting. I was a school teacher in Detroit many years ago. Celebratory gunfire is most risky in areas like this, where it is densely populated.

    • momsdoworkathome profile image

      Katina Davenport 3 years ago from Michigan

      We know about this all too well in Detroit. There are countless stories about people being injured by gunfire in the air. It is dangerous. Although I am no longer in Detroit, I still get nervous around the 4th of July because somewhere in between all the big fireworks from my neighbors there is someone that shoots a gun into the air.

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      wmhoward24 that is a great point - using blanks. I think that most people that participate in shooting a gun in the air just do not realize that it is potentially dangerous. Thanks for reading and have a happy 4th!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for reading KissandTales and PegCole17. Fireworks are illegal where I live - even sparklers. There are a lot of trees and dry land. I hope you both have a happy July 4th!

    • wmhoward4 profile image

      William A. Howard IV 3 years ago from Baltimore Maryland (USA)

      Why fire a real bullet? Most rounds can be bought as blanks.

      Same noise w/o the danger. (Check if that is legal in your area too)

      In MD someone was killed a couple of News Years Eves ago by careless gunfire. Folks, be responsible or you may lose the right altogether.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks for this important reminder on gun safety. We live in an area of Texas where fireworks stands abound. On holidays like the 4th of July, we always have concerns about this practice along with the hazzard of potential fires from stray fireworks. Congratulations on a well-deserved Hub of the Day award.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 3 years ago

      Great hub! Things that seem harmless and fun can be deadly. The old sayings when New Years comes around everyone should take cover and hit the ground. That has always been for the safety of our family.

      Guns can kill even not intentionally .

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks moonlake! I too was surprised by what I found after researching this topic. Have a happy July 4th!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      I saw a story on TV about how they fire guns into the air in the Middle East and how some bystanders have died from it. I didn't know it was a practice in the US. Congrats on HOTD.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award. Glad to see this highlighted and I hope the discussion goes from computer screens to BBQ's so people can be made aware of the dangers. One persons freedom ends where harm to another begins. Responsible gun ownership/usage is a right we need to protect, but we also have the right (and responsibility) to protect ourselves and others from irresponsible gun ownership/usage. That requires speaking up/stepping up by supporting laws like Shannon's law. Thanks again for this discussion starter.

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for reading and for all of your comments. My hopes are that people may read this article and realize the dangers of firing a gun into the air, and will choose not to do it. Have a happy and safe July 4th!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 3 years ago

      Thanks for the timely warning.

    • starbright profile image

      Lucy Jones 3 years ago from Scandinavia

      This is a subject worth addressing. Sadly, in the excitement of things, people don't always think about the consequences of their actions. Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on the HOTD - well deserved. Voted and shared.

    • Texan Devil profile image

      Cory 3 years ago from West Texas

      I completely believe in the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. Like many do.

      However, we also have the Declaration of Independence. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in this country is why it was established. When someone else in the course of exercising their rights infringes on mine, or anyone else's for that matter, my or their rights trump whatever you're doing.

      We have the right to free speech which includes flag burning. Like the much-known T shirt emblazoned with the American flag says "try to burn this flag." However, that very same crowd who would wear those shirts seem to forget quite often that along with free speech and my NOT being able to burn you or your personal property, ALL the amendments are NOT absolute, including the Second Amendment. ("Fire in a movie theatre" etc.)

      And as such if you are on your own property, did the math, own a property big enough where it's safe to do: awesome. Shoot that gun in the air as much as you want. But the very minute you even RISK hurting someone by doing this, you cease to have that right. And I ALSO have the right to not have to be afraid to be in my own backyard every 4th of July because of the actions of my neighbors.

      ...I already know where the comments are going to go on this article, and I'm the first to comment on my screen. Hence the spirit of what I wrote.

      Happy 4th of July! Be safe!

    • profile image

      swilliams 3 years ago

      This is a very useful message this time of year. Shannon's law in Arizona refers to specific changes in Arizona statutes, enforced in 2000, making it a felony offense to discharge firearms randomly into the air, after a young girl named Shannon was killed by a stray bullet. However, people still shoot their guns randomly during the 4th of July. A very careless act. Great topic voted up!


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