What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Boy killed by stray bullet fired in celebration of July 4
(The Raw Story)

Police in Chesterfield County Virginia are seeking information that could lead to the arrest of whoever fired a shot into the air that struck and killed 7-year-old Brendon Mackey on July 4. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the boy was walking with his father in a parking lot when he abruptly fell to the ground lifeless.

Every year we read about such tragic events, and while gun owners and even some experts don’t always agree on the details, this is a very even handed description of what happens when a bullet is fired straight up into the air.

It seems obvious, however, that most bullets fired into the air, for whatever reason, are NOT aimed straight up. I would imagine that most people shooting this way take at least some care to aim away from people and buildings they can SEE, but they quite obviously do not understand the speed and trajectory of the bullet. They are obviously not thinking about the person or object that may be on the other end of that trajectory. Most importantly, however, they have chosen to ignore one of the absolutely imperative rules for safe gun handling.

ALWAYS point the gun in a safe direction. KNOW your target, and what is behind it.

You are always responsible for every single bullet that fires from your gun. Every bullet fired has to go somewhere. It WILL hit something. You are responsible for what it hits. You remain responsible if you “didn’t know,” or if you did not intend to fire the gun at all. So, firing a gun into the air, with zero idea where the bullet will land or what it will hit is not an “accident” in any rational sense of the word. An accident is an event that happens without intention, and without any reasonable warning. It is something unforeseen and, often, unavoidable. A great many things that are called “accidents” are truly incidents of negligence, by one or more people.

So, while the actual chance of killing someone is probably very low, the very act of firing a gun into the air, without a clear target and knowledge of where that bullet will land, is simply criminal negligence whether you hit the side of a building or kill someone’s prize bull. If your bullet kills a person, you are guilty of at least manslaughter. I can’t imagine any “celebration” being worth taking that chance.

Those who truly care about safety, and their reputation as responsible, rational people, need to take the one step necessary to avoid this negligence. Don’t shoot your guns into the air.

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3 Responses to What Goes Up, Must Come Down

  1. "gunner" says:

    that’s why i don’t fire “warning” or “to whom it may concern” shots. as mama liberty points out so well, i’m responsible for where every bullet i fire lands.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Yes indeed, Gunner. Just as important is the fact that if you really had time and opportunity for such a “warning,” you either don’t have a legitimate reason to draw and fire at all – or you’ve just given the criminal the crucial edge with a much better chance to kill you.

      That said, I might attempt to shoot in front or to the side of a threatening dog or some other animal, just as long as I knew where the bullet would go and was sure there were no other animals or humans in harm’s way.

      But that’s the IDEAL, of course. In a true emergency one would have split seconds to decide what to do and then carry it out. This is why good, ongoing training is so important. If we think about it, make up our mind what we would do in such situations and practice it faithfully, we are more apt to make good decisions and take appropriate actions when the chips are down.


  2. Pingback: What goes up, must come down | Pro 2nd Amendment Boycott – P2AB

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