With our Chiefs playing in—and poised to win (fingers crossed)—another Super Bowl, let's not ruin the celebration of again becoming world champs. Don't be reckless. Be smart. Be safe.
Keep guns out of any celebrating you do.
Firing celebratory gunshots into the air endangers others and can turn the happiest celebration into a tragedy. I've said it before and will say it again:
There's absolutely only one way to guarantee a gun does no harm: DON'T FIRE IT!
What goes up will come down. And if you fire a bullet up into the air, it could come down with devastating consequences.
A Potentially Lethal Missile
Bullets, depending on the weapon's caliber and barrel length, can reach speeds of 1,200 to 2,800 mph. That high velocity is what turns a relatively tiny projectile into a potentially lethal missile that can penetrate walls, roofs, car doors—tear holes in flesh, shatter bones, cut a path of destruction through a person's body.
A bullet isn’t rendered harmless just because it’s fired straight up into the air. Though it might be traveling like a rocket, it isn’t going to be launched into outer space. At about 10,000 feet up, the Earth’s gravitational pull will start bringing that bullet back down.
The atmosphere will create resistance on the bullet's descent. Under perfect conditions, the bullet's speed and energy be greatly reduced.
Landing Two Miles Away
But rarely are conditions completely calm. Bullets fired straight up—even at a perfect 90-degree angle—can, due to wind conditions, come down more than two miles away.
Very few bullets are actually fired straight up. Those fired at an angle can maintain greater speeds, greater energy, greater power. The speed at which a bullet needs to be traveling to prove lethal varies, depending on the bullet and the person it strikes.
A bullet with a blunt nose might bounce off of you at 225 mph. Those with a pointier tip can penetrate your skin at significantly lower speeds.
The end result is that there’s nothing safe about firing a bullet into the air.
Too Many Risks
Police officers are trained to always “check your background” before firing a gun. That’s why during my 30-year career with the Kansas City Police I never would have fired shots at a car speeding away from a scene—something common in TV cop shows not real life. The risks of hitting a house, another car driving down the street or a by-stander—maybe someone walking their dog a couple of blocks away—are too great.
As for warning shots, there’s multiple reasons law enforcement agencies expressly prohibit them: 1) you never fire shots in the air; 2) you can’t just fire into a wall not knowing its thickness or if someone might be on the other side; 3) you risk a ricochet off walls, light poles, streets or cars.
Anytime you pull the trigger, you’re gambling the bullet’s going to end up where you intended—that you won’t miss. However, when you fire a gun randomly into the air, what exactly are you aiming at? There's no guarantee a bullet you fire in the air won't hit something—or someone.
There's absolutely no rational to shoot a gun for celebratory purposes. Please be safe and think of others.