As dangerous as it seems, firing bullets into the air proves to be lethal throughout history. For years, firing a bullet upwards is known to be a tradition to some countries – including some parts of Russia, the Middle East, and the US.
Despite its potential harm, this so-called Celebratory Gunfire continues to be a practice to some people, most commonly during occasions like New Year’s Eve. It could also be like in the movies, wherein a person with a firearm releases a warning shot into the air.
This careless act of firing bullets into the air could result in property damage, injuries, or even death.
Now let’s look into the reason why this act of celebration becomes fatal.
What will happen if you fire a gun upward?
Different possibilities might happen once you fire your gun upward, depending on the firearm that you used and the wind speed.
Let’s say you fired an AK-47 towards the air; it will have a muzzle velocity of 1500 miles per hour. Typically, this muzzle velocity is more than enough to incur injuries or, worse, kill a person. However, if you shot the rifle upwards, the bullet will only continue to go upwards until it slowly decelerates due to gravitational force. Once it reached its peak, it will now start to fall back down with only 10% of the original muzzle velocity, which would be 150 miles per hour. This velocity is much weaker compared to when initially fired, but this could still lead to severe injuries since the standard for breaking the skin is 136 miles per hour.
Other factors may also come into play to increase or decrease the velocity of the bullet, such as air resistance and the angle of the firearm when fired. Another thing to consider is the bullet fired – in our example, we have the AK-47, which uses 7.62 calibers 39mm rounds.
Because of these factors, firing guns into the air could often lead to serious harm, if not death. That’s why this act is illegal in several countries, including the US; however, it is still culturally acceptable in some parts of it. One thing is for sure, wherever the country we live in, firing a bullet into the air is improper.
Notable incidents caused by stray bullets
There are many unusual incidents caused by stray bullets throughout the history of firearms. Some events include damage to nearby properties, shotting down an aircraft, and injuring a person to the extent that it might kill him or her.
The dangers of stray bullets are entirely evident, not only in the US but also all over the globe.
Here’s a list of some of the notable stray bullet incidents in different countries:
January 1, 2005 – During the New Year celebration in the central square of downtown Skopje, North Macedonia, a young girl died two days after being hit by a stray bullet.
December 25, 2012 – A three-year-old girl in Paraguay, died after being hit by a stray bullet.
February 25, 2007 – Stray bullets killed five people in a kite festival in Lahore, Pakistan.
July 1, 2017 – A stray bullet killed a 13-year-old boy, Noah Inman, while he was playing basketball in the street.
July 4, 2012 – A stray bullet killed a 34-year-old woman, Michelle Packard while watching fireworks outside her house. The police said that the shot could have come from a mile away.
June 14, 1999 – A stray bullet killed after it struck the top of the head of a 14-year-old girl in Arizona while she was in the backyard. This incident led to the ban of firing bullets into the air.
January 1, 2020 – A stray bullet killed a 61-years-old Texas nurse, Philippa Ashford, on New Year’s Eve. The police believed that the shot came from celebratory gunfire.
October 12, 2003 – A small aircraft in Belgrade, Serbia, crashed after being accidentally struck by a stray bullet. The shot came from wedding guests that performed celebratory gunfire.
Firing a bullet into the air is not a recommendable action; even for whatever reason. Most of the time, it only causes damages or unwanted incidents. If you need a way to celebrate, instead of gunfire, fireworks would be a better idea.