Yay, freedom! Now quit firing guns into the air, dumbasses!

Seems to be everybody’s favorite way to celebrate when they dislodge the tyrant: Fire round after round of automatic weapons into the air. Usually in an urban area.

Basic physics lesson, dudes: When you fire a rifle into the air, the bullet goes up and up in a parabolic arc and gradually slows, as its weight overcomes its initial kinetic energy. It then starts to fall and picks up all that energy again. When it gets back near the ground it is now traveling at the same speed and with the same punch as when it exited the muzzle. You just shot your neighbor’s wife through the top of the skull.

No, it’s probably traveling at its terminal velocity. You’re ignoring friction.

They’re not the only ones in need of physics lessons. :wink: A rifle bullet will never, ever, under any circumstances wind up at muzzle velocities in free fall, at least not on a planet with an atmosphere. Terminal velocity is the key concept.

That said, your point is perfectly valid. A 160gr hunk of lead moving at 300fps will still kill a person.


By the OP’s logic, hail would also go through the top of your skull.

How would you possibly fire hail out of a rifle? It would shatter.


Without air resistance, wouldn’t space dust and rain kill us all long before the hail does?

No parabolic arc either, even discounting friction. Inertia from the Earth’s rotation, it counts.

Maybe they think they’ve liberated themselves from gravity, too.

Eh, the OP’s physics is off, but the general idea that bullets falling from large heights can be lethel isn’t. I imagine bullets have a smaller cross-section then hail, and thus a larger terminal velocity.

Smaller? Not most of the time. A small calibre bullet is, for example, .22 of an inch. Plenty of hail is that small or smaller. And there are bullets much larger than a .22 calibre.

Also, while hail is generally nice and round, bullets are not. They cut through the air nicely when they still have the spin imparted to them by the rifling of the firearm, but on their way back down from being fired in the air, they are much more likely to be tumbling in a rather unaerodynamic fashion.

I’m not arguing that falling bullets can’t kill or injure people. Clearly they can, as can any object falling quickly enough. But to argue that they reach muzzle velocity on the way back down is ridiculous.

Last New Year, here in Thailand, a girl little girl was killed in her sleep when a bullet fired in lieu of fireworks came straight down the and hit her head. I found a short news article.

I’m sure it happens every now and then.

Also, bullets are metal, which is heavier than ice, so clearly the bullets will fall faster.


Dave Barry told a story once that police and firemen working in Miami had standing orders to get under some form of cover at the stroke of midnight during New Years Eve, due to the custom of the locals to firing their guns in the air to celebrate the New Year. Does anyone know if this is true or if he was just passing on an urban legend?

Heavier objects do fall faster in an atmosphere.

:o Ignorance fought. I bow to the Master.

Still a dangerous and silly thing to do, though. I mean, do soldiers or Marines use live ammo when they fire a 21-gun salute?


They also hit harder. A bullet is harder, heavier and denser than a chunk of ice, so it will do more damage at the same velocity than ice will.

As I said, your point is still valid. One New Years eve, a .30 cal boattail punched through the roof of my sister’s house and dented her cast iron tub.

Those of us who are responsible about firing our guns in the air use shotguns with #8 birdshot. :wink:

(It feels like a stinging rain when it comes back down, but seriously, I haven’t done this in nearly 20 years. Fireworks are much more fun and safe.)