A Good Poop

Fun with celebratory gunfire

So the word is on the street that if you fire a bunch of bullets up in the air, they eventually end up falling back to earth at speeds capable of killing people. Great way to celebrate, eh? Celebratory gunfire injuries occur worldwide, and represent the ultimate in preventable injury.

Incorvaia AN, Poulos DM, Jones RN, Tschirhart JM. Can a falling bullet be lethal at terminal velocity? Cardiac injury caused by a celebratory bullet. Ann Thorac Surg. 2007 Jan;83(1):283-4.

Some dude was out celebrating New Year’s in East Lansing, Michigan, and ended up in the hospital with a bullet in his stomach. A bullet that passed through the right ventricle of his heart on the way there! Dude lost over 5 litres of blood and went through a 9-hour surgery to remove the bullet and repair the damage it caused. All thanks to some asshole who didn’t think about where bullets go when they are fired up into the sky.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New Year’s Eve injuries caused by celebratory gunfire–Puerto Rico, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004 Dec 24;53(50):1174-5.

The particularly wonderful thing about celebratory gunfire injuries is that they are utterly indiscriminate. A report by the Puerto Rico Department of Health found that celebratory gunfire injuries affected a higher percentage of women and children than injuries from regular old shooting at things.

Ordog GJ, Dornhoffer P, Ackroyd G, Wasserberger J, Bishop M, Shoemaker W, Balasubramanium S. Spent bullets and their injuries: the result of firing weapons into the sky. J Trauma. 1994 Dec;37(6):1003-6.

Between 1985 and 1992, 118 people were treated for random falling-bullet injuries at a single hospital in Los Angeles. The breakdown of injuries caused by celebratory gunshots is as follows: 77% head, 12% shoulder, 5% upper back, 2% chest, 1% upper arm, 1% leg, and 1% foot.


  1. #1 jointpounder
    March 16, 2008

    The potential lethality of falling projectiles is dependent on trajectory. If fired straight up, such that it stalls and passes through zero velocity, it will tumble at a (usually) non-lethal velocity back to earth. Fired at enough of an angle, however, such that it ends-over at greater-than zero velocity, it will maintain spin and ballistic trajectory as it accelerates back to ground (or through whatever gets in the way).

  2. #2 Pierce R. Butler
    March 16, 2008

    Where can you get a sombrero-style combat helmet?

  3. #3 Umlud
    March 17, 2008

    Remember, though: “Guns don’t kill people, random celebratory shootings in the air causing internal bleeding, which, if not properly cared-for can kill people.”

  4. #4 Jim Thomerson
    March 21, 2008

    A contract group was in Iraq developing and flying RPV’s for the Navy. One day they were all atwitter because one of their ships had taken fire. Indeed there was a bullet hole through the wing spar. Turns out they had flown the RPV over a wedding celebration. So there is hostile fire, friendly fire and celebratory fire in Iraq.

  5. #5 OriGuy
    April 23, 2008

    Don’t forget the work of Hyneman, Jamie and Savage, Adam.

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