Shooting In The Air


A typical 7.62mm round fired vertically normally climbs about 2,400 metres in 17 seconds, and then take another 40 seconds or so to return to the ground. It falls at a speed of about 70 metres per second (falling base first, because it’s more stable that way round).

The bullet velocity required for skin penetration is between 45 and 60 metres per second, but a blow to the head doesn’t need to penetrate the skin in order to be fatal, and this is the key: the reason fatalities are disproportionate is that any injuries which do occur are likely to be cranial. So while it’s less likely that you’ll be hit than if somebody is aiming at you, if you are hit it’s more likely to be fatal – about five times as likely as in normal firing.

“A lot of the people who keep a gun at home for safety are the same ones who refuse to wear a seat belt.” – George Carlin

Even if it’s launched vertically the bullet is likely to move sideways quite significantly – when it slows down towards its highest point it is particularly susceptible to sideways movement by the smallest gust of wind.

Experiments in Florida just after the First World War involved a machine gun set up on a ten-foot-square platform positioned over water so that the returning bullets could be seen to splash down. The gun was adjusted to centre the returning bullets onto the stage, but, of more than 500 bullets fired into the air, only four hit the stage at the end of their return journey. Unfortunately, the size of the stage is at present not known.

“You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. Men, we need to control the bullets, that’s right. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars! Five thousand dollars per bullet! You know why? Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollars there would be no more innocent bystanders.” – Chris Rock

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7 thoughts on “Shooting In The Air

  1. Chris Rock continues “Every time somebody get shut we’d say, ‘Damn, he must have done something. Shit, he’s got fifty thousand dollars worth of bullets in his ass.’ And people would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost five thousand dollars. ‘Man I would blow your fucking head off, if I could afford it.’ ‘I’m going to get me another job, I’m going to start saving some money, and you’re a dead man. You’d better hope I can’t get no bullets on layaway.'”

    PS Curiously, in United States politics, real guns are allowed at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, but water pistols are banned.

  2. And another interesting choice of painting – Rembrandt’s The Night Watch? Peter Greenaway made a v. intriguing film about it, if I have got all my facts in a row.

  3. About those Chris Rock comments, makes sense. I mean, wouldn’t every shot fired be premeditated, considering the costs involved? As for banning water pistols at political conventions, that makes total sense: water is known to cool hot heads, and in cooling down a hot head might begin to reason… and… and… everyone would leave to go to the pub… On the other hand if somebody is shot in the heat of the moment, tempers only rise, causing a massive push towards sideism.

  4. “Comedy is a funny way of being serious,” as Peter Ustinov said. It’s a celebrated quotation on KG, and it is certainly true in this case.

  5. “Comedy is a funny way of being serious,” – You’ve uncovered my secret!

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