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Author Topic: Can firing a gun into the air kill people?  (Read 5996 times)

Bob Gosset

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Can firing a gun into the air kill people?
« on: 23/10/2008 11:22:17 »
Bob Gosset  asked the Naked Scientists:

Hi,

If you fire a bullet up into space (eg as you see celebrating Iraqis doing) does the bullet not reach a certain height and then topple over and come down again? Could it not then hit someone and kill them (accidentally)?

Great programme

Bob from Alicante

What do you think?


 

Offline Don_1

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Can firing a gun into the air kill people?
« Reply #1 on: 23/10/2008 12:05:28 »
Perhaps not kill anyone, but if a lump of lead falls from a great height on your bonce, it won't do you any good, that's for sure!
 

Offline rosy

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Can firing a gun into the air kill people?
« Reply #2 on: 23/10/2008 12:55:35 »
It can, and it does. It's reported on the news occasionally.
The bullet comes down on a pretty small area, of course, and even in a crowd not all that much ground is covered in people... I've tested this by firing water-rockets (which are rather bigger but much less lethal) at fairs, before I got all grown-up and nervous about health-and-safety.
 

Offline RD

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Offline Evie

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Can firing a gun into the air kill people?
« Reply #4 on: 23/10/2008 15:04:38 »
I saw this tested on an episode of Mythbusters (love that show!!). If you know the format of the show, they rate their tested myths as either confirmed, plausible, or busted. This particular experiment received all three ratings. Here's the description from Wiki:

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In the case of a bullet fired at a precisely vertical angle (something extremely difficult for a human being to duplicate), the bullet would tumble, lose its spin, and fall at a much slower speed due to terminal velocity and is therefore rendered less than lethal on impact (the Busted rating). However, if a bullet is fired upward at a non-vertical angle (a far more probable possibility), it will maintain its spin and will retain enough energy to be lethal on impact (the Plausible rating). Because of this potentiality, firing a gun into the air is illegal in most U.S. states, and even in the states where it is legal, it is not recommended by the police. Also the MythBusters were able to identify two people who had been injured by falling bullets, one of them fatally (the Confirmed rating). To date, this is the only myth to receive all three ratings at the same time.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_season_4#Bullets_Fired_Up  (Episode 50)
 

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Can firing a gun into the air kill people?
« Reply #5 on: 23/10/2008 16:03:47 »
It could kill someone hiding up a tree!  :D
 

Online Bored chemist

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Can firing a gun into the air kill people?
« Reply #6 on: 23/10/2008 19:32:49 »
Anti aircraft gun, anyone?
 

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Can firing a gun into the air kill people?
« Reply #6 on: 23/10/2008 19:32:49 »

 

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