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Leave it to that Newton guy. Thanks to him, we recognize the inevitability of that whole “what goes up, must come down” thing. And when it comes to small pieces of lead that are projected out of a rifle or handgun into the air, when what went up comes down, it can come down with enough speed/force/mass to kill. But that’s not likely to stop the Libyans, Rebels Without a Clue…

From our pals over at Business Insider, comes this report on the wisdom of firing one’s firearm into the air in a celabratory slap-up over the ousting of a tyrant:

We’re asking because watching CNN right now, it seems like everyone in Tripoli, LIbya is out firing automatic weapons into the air.

It has us wondering: Where will all those bullets land? Could they actually kill someone?

Turns out the answer is yes.

They picked up on our fave Discovery Channel opus, MythBusters, and their shocking (shocking, I say!) exposé of the practice of indiscriminately firing into the air.

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. However, if a bullet is fired upward at a non-vertical angle (a far more probable possibility), it will maintain its spin and will reach a high enough speed to be lethal on impact. Because of this potentiality, firing a gun into the air is illegal in most states, and even in the states that 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 injured. To date, this is the only myth to receive all three ratings at the same time.

So call it “Irresponsible Gun Owner(s) of The Day,” or a bunch of guys suffering from premature ejerkulation, it matters not. It’s all fun and everything until someone gets killed.

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  1. WTF happened to FPS Russia? Did you retire his IGOOTD jersey, or are you just tired of funding awsome YouTube content?

    • “So. You rock up to McDonalds’ drive-thru in an armored military vehicle with a fully-functional 50-caliber machine gun. You don’t tell anyone, ’cause, you know, that’s the joke! Ha! In America, anti-terrorist squad kill you! Or, in this case, not. Props to FPS. While “Ma Deuce” isn’t concealed, that’s the most egregious example of brandishing I’ve ever seen. Obviously. As to whether it constitutes a terroristic threat, I’ll leave that to finer legal minds than mine. As for the possibility of .50 caliber ricochets, meh. What else is new? Our faux Slavic friend is finally wearing eyes and ears! How great is that?”

  2. First the rebels had no guns or ammo and now they win a few battles and just shoot the shit off in the air like it was free!…Not something I’ll do when civil war II(conservatives-vs-Libnuts) come to America.

  3. ‘Celebratory Gunfire’: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, one side or the other won some battle and fired off their ZSU quad-20mm AA gun into the air for half a minute in celebration. The rounds came down in a school a few miles away and killed or wounded a dozen or so little girls.

    I know there’s a difference between falling AAA rounds and falling 7.62×39, but the difference is one of degree and they’re both lethal.

    • I know it’s a million years old in internet years, but I still think Antoine Dodson said it best, “You are so dumb, you are really, really dumb.”

    • I have a family acquaintance from Germany who was in his early teens during WW2, growing up West of Berlin.

      He said that when the AAA guns started firing, everyone ran to cover. Not because of the threat of bombs, He was in a small agricultural town, but the eventual shrapnel rain. He said a quick walk to the outskirts of the town revealed the lethality of the falling shrapnel with dead and severely lacerated farm animals.

      He and all the other kids would then proceed to gather as much of the metal from the streets, roofs and gutters as possible to recycle back into the war effort.

  4. FWIW, Mathematically, terminal velocity — without considering the buoyancy effects — is given by

    Vt = √2mg/ρACd

    Vt = terminal velocity,
    m = mass of the falling object,
    g = acceleration due to gravity,
    Cd = drag coefficient,
    ρ = density of the fluid through which the object is falling, and
    A = projected area of the object.

    Mathematically, an object approaches its terminal velocity asymptotically.

      • Isn’t classical Newtonian physics/mechanics fun?!

        Remember what we learned in class, don’t use the tourniquet on the head and neck, unless, of course, you’re applying it to a barking moonbat.

    • Since you brought it up…

      Those 7.62×39 AK rounds are probably of the 123 gr (8 .0 g) FMJ variety. So do the math for us (I’m a finance guy – if a number doesn’t have dollar sign in front of it, I’m lost). What would the terminal velocity be? How much energy does a falling bullet impart?

      How does that compare to the energy a bullet has while it is still being motivated by exploding gunpowder and pressurized gas through a 16” barrel? Or does it compare more closely to a baseball being thrown by a MLB pitcher? I suspect the latter. As such I think the danger is largely theoretical, which is why the MythBusters’ conclusions were so inconsistent.

      • It doesn’t compare at all to powered flight. When the bullet reaches apogee, assuming that it was fired near vertically, it has zero velocity at that point and starts falling. At some point in its downward path it will reach Vt, disregarding complicating factors like wind drift, possible updrafts and other variables like whether it’s tumbling or (very unlikely) pointing straight down. Without knowing the exact Cd, p or A, and being too lazy to look them up right now, I’d make a guesstimate that the Vt for a 8.0g 7.62mm slug would be something < 200 ft/sec (136 mph) or about as fast as a typical paintball at the muzzle. Probably not fatal but it would sting a good bit and leave a nice mark. That said, I won't volunteer to test the hypothesis.

  5. Not to mention that celebratory fire can be easily mistaken as you know, actual firing. We had this issue on numerous occasions in Iraq. We became aware of soccer schedules, local elections, world events, and when the kid across the street lost his virginity. Firing into the air can cause armed people around you to focus their attention at you. They may not be aware of your reason for happiness. They may take offense at your shooting. They may just aim at you.

  6. As I folded laundry the other day and watched CNN’s report of the goings on in Libya, I thought of TTAG and IGOTD as the celebratory gun fire continued in the background. I wondered if the Libyan rebels would appear as IGOTD and sure enough here they are.

    One small suggestion: Can we limit IGOTD candidates to citizens of the US? Lord knows we have enough of them in the friendly confines of our own borders, do we have to be responsible for the entire world?

    • I dunno. I just read where Shelbyville, TN has had an influx of Somali refugees (our tax dollars and State Dept. at work), and (according to the report) are not assimilating well with the locals. (Go figure.) So today’s International IGOTD is tomorrow’s local IGOTD. Forewarned is forearmed. Or something.

  7. Silly Libyans must have learned this from the residents of Phoenix. It’s OK, though, they only do it on New Years.

    • At one time, I had a very nice house in an historic district in Old East Dallas, Texas. It was about two streets removed from a nearby bario. We spent New Years Eve INSIDE every year, to avoid falling lead, if you know what I mean.

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