Monday, August 22, 2011

How dangerous is firing a gun into the air?

Libyan rebels have celebrated their advance into Tripoli by firing guns in the air. How hazardous is this?

It is, unarguably, an emphatic way to display one's jubilation.

Shooting an automatic weapon into the sky to signal an occasion one welcomes is a popular practice in much of the world, as the footage of Libyan anti-Gaddafi forces seizing the main square of the capital city has demonstrated.

But it is a potentially fatal activity, which regularly results in the deaths of bystanders.

"These bullets go a long way up when they're fired," says ballistics expert David Dyson. "But you don't know where they're going to land - there's always a chance of them causing serious harm or death."

Examples of fatalities due to celebratory gunfire abound.

Three people in the Philippines died due to stray bullets fired to welcome the arrival of the new year 2011.

In 2010 a Turkish bridegroom killed three relatives when he fired an AK-47 at his own wedding. In the same year, Jordan's King Abdullah II ordered his country's authorities to clamp down on the practice after two people were killed and 13 more injured in one incident. more