What goes up must come down. At first, this may seem like a ridiculously obvious comment, made by Captain Obvious. However, there are far too many people in the world who are not familiar with the concept. I have undeniable proof of this.
Gun safety is not something to take lightly, at all, in any way. I mean it. Just because you live in the suburbs of a major city, or perhaps all the way out in “the countryside,” you are not somehow magically immune to some, or all, of the laws of physics. You really aren’t. I promise.
July 3, 2011, my wife, my dog, and I were on our way back home from watching a fireworks show with some friends. I already had the steering wheel turned to pull in to our driveway, when the back windshield shattered. It looked as if a bullet had gone through the window. I checked the interior of the car for bullet holes and saw nothing. There was very little glass inside or outside the car (thank you, window tint!), but I did find a small hole in the back dashboard, right under the hole in the glass. This indicated that the bullet had come from an angle perpendicular to the ground. I checked the trunk and saw the 9mm 115 grain FMJ just sitting there.
Unfortunately, this type of irresponsible behavior is more common than most people seem to realize. Many people have been seriously injured or killed because of such carelessness. A simple internet search for “celebratory gunfire” will give over 50,000 results. The most recent example, as of this writing, was from December 15, 2011, in Ohio. The Mythbusters performed tests on this subject (Episode 50: “Bullets Fired Up”). Based on the data they collected, they found that it is potentially dangerous behavior. They were able to confirm two separate instances of bullets striking humans upon returning to the ground.
Depending on where you are when you shoot a gun into the air, it may be totally legal, a misdemeanor, or a felony. In Texas, for example, the law regards random gunfire as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4 thousand dollar fine. If you hurt anyone or anything, the courts could charge you with a felony. In Arizona, random gunfire is automatically a felony. This is because of Shannon’s law, which legislators enacted in 2000. This was in response to the 1999 incident, where a stray bullet killed 14-year-old Shannon Smith. Probably not worth it, huh? Regardless of the law, what you think is “cool,” or even if it is an “accident,” shooting guns into the air is reckless and breaks more than one of the “Firearms Safety Rules.” Shooting firearms is a lot of fun, when executed properly, it is one of the safest sports. Let’s try to keep it that way.