Isaac Newton was a very smart dude who became famous in the 1700’s for many contributions to mathematics and understanding of our universe. He offered complicated mathematical explanations about ‘whatever goes up must come down’, however, no one needs to do the math…we know it happens all the time…so why do people fire their weapons in the air?
We have seen it in the media, especially, during festive celebrations such as New Year’s Eve and Independence Day. The chances of being struck by a falling bullet are very small, however, it does happen. The National Center for Health Statistics maintains your chances of accidental injury by firearms are one in 6,000, however, no specific reference to “falling bullets” is noted.
In Los Angeles, over seven years (1985 – 1992) doctors at King/Drew Medical Center reported 38 people died and 118 were injured from weapon discharges into the air. The occurrence was during holiday celebrations and amounted to 32% mortalities from falling bullets. A special team of trained officers patrolled busy areas, in Los Angeles during holiday activities, looking for people discharging weapons in the air.
Shooting guns in the air is defined as “reckless discharge of a weapon” in the US and illegal at any time. It has become even more serious in Arizona where the penalty was changed from a misdemeanor to a felony, resulting up to one year in jail. In spite of the danger; some foreign countries allow it while aware of documented injuries and property loss.
Building roof tops and automobiles have been damaged including deaths from head injuries. What happen to common sense plus respect for human life and personal property? After the end of the Gulf War in Kuwait, troops celebrated by carelessly discharging their weapons in the air resulting in 20 deaths from falling bullets.
Some rifles can discharge a bullet to a height of two miles for duration of more than a minute. When “Newt” did his experiments with falling objects; he said they all have the desire to fall at the same rate. Did he mean, for example, that a rock and a feather will fall at the same speed? Yep; it just so happens that the old geezer was right again, at least, when occurring in zero atmosphere.
Gravity has the same attraction on all things; however, in our atmosphere with wind resistance we find that objects will reach a “terminal velocity” based upon their mass and shape. The terminal velocity of a falling bullet can reach somewhere around 200 miles per hour creating enough impact to kill a person.
Our Concealed Carry Instructor did not specifically tell us not to fire our weapons in the air, but, there is a direct correlation to the (4) basic rules of safety:
- Always assume your weapon is loaded and ready for discharge.
- Never point your weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot. (which includes discharging in the air)
- Be aware of what is near your target and in your line of fire. (which includes discharging in the air)
- Keep your finger off the trigger until it’s safe to shoot your target.
Some may feel constant reminders of the above rules are trite and unnecessary…but consider them as a prayer for safety worth repeating. Always be safe, respect the law plus, your neighbors and their property at all times…keep on packin dude.
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