Sunday, January 07, 2007

Don't celebrate with gunfire

Fact: A 7mm Magnum bullet launched under optimum conditions will travel almost 5 miles.

This New Year’s Eve, someone in the Baytown area decided, for some ignorant reason, to celebrate the incoming year by firing a gun into the air, maybe more than once. I guess they never gave it a serious thought, or the probability the bullet would not land harmlessly in a field somewhere.

Maybe the next time that character decides to celebrate a holiday by firing a gun into the air, the bullet will fall through their windshield and then they can “figger it all out.”

I do not want anyone hurt, even the uneducated person firing the gun. I’m giving this person the benefit of the doubt, calling them ignorant and uneducated, because no educated person would willingly fire a bullet into the hemisphere where people live.

Fact: A .22 long rifle bullet can travel up to a mile and a half when shot into the air.

A couple of years ago, I found a 9mm bullet stuck in a shingle on my roof. It must have been fired around the Fourth of July to stick in the shingle like that. I have it in my lunchbox and occasionally, I’ll pull it out when the subject of shooting into the air comes up. Based on the angle of the embedded bullet, I could figure the trajectory. It came from my own neighborhood.

Joe Foster, a buddy of mine, told me he found a bullet in the hallway of his trailer. Looking up, he saw a hole in the roof where the bullet had came through. It was a 9mm.

Mythbusters aired an episode on whether a fired bullet still has enough energy to actually kill a person when it falls from the sky and they felt it most likely could not. It was an interesting episode, but it could happen, as the victimized lady in Baytown proved.

Fact: Hunting ammunition is more lethal than military “full-metal jacket ammo.”

While hunting, numerous times I’ve heard a shotgun blast in the distance and had lead pellets fall all around me. One time while hunting in Central Texas, I heard both a rifle shot and a ricochet sound that could have came straight out of Hollywood. I ducked, but it would have been too late.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I watched Saddam Hussein fire a rifle over the heads of his countrymen. Each time I saw it, I remarked how stupid, dangerous and inconsiderate it was. It appears that anywhere people can get their hands on an assault rifle, they feel compelled to “rip off a clip” of ammo into the air. Somewhere, someplace there are innocent people with bullet wounds from this activity and now we have one in Baytown.

I’m hoping against hope the police department will declare what caliber of firearm was used for this crime and it is a crime. Maybe someone will come forward and make restitution to the poor lady. It’s the only responsible thing which is acceptable.

Fact: What goes up must come down. It’s called gravity.

I was shown a pump shotgun by a Hunter Education Instructor, which had a large dent in the barrel. It seems the owner had been duck hunting from a small skiff when he spotted a large fish swimming by. Since there were no ducks around, he figured the fish was a suitable target and sticking the muzzle of the shotgun under the surface, he pulled the trigger. I know. It defies even basic logic. The water acted as a barrel obstruction and blew a hole in the side of the barrel.

Another duck hunter fell down while going to his blind. The muzzle of his Browning over and under shotgun stuck in the mud. No problem, he thought, I’ll just shoot it out. BLAM! No more expensive shotgun.

This year, more than anytime I can recall, it did indeed sound like World War III in Baytown. I asked a buddy at work about the fireworks available and he told me there are “mortars” available that really put off a boom. I don’t know, but I kept thinking my ERT beeper was going to go off. Surely some plant was going up in smoke!

New Year’s Eve was a beautiful cool night with stars shining brightly. I, like the lady in Meadow Lake Village, stood in my front yard looking up in the sky, my little doggie scampering around my feet. “Muffin” was afraid of the cacophony of sounds, the star-bursts and whistling thingamajiggies.

It’s a good thing I had my safety glasses on. Next year I’ll bring home a hardhat and face shield.

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