ISP: It’s ‘very dumb’ to fire guns into the air on the Fourth of July

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Indy Star on July 3, 2017 by Holly Hays

It’s exciting, isn’t it?

The smell of charred meats. The crunch of the empty beer can under your feet. The freedom of a day off work in the middle of an Indiana summer. It’s America’s birthday, and it’s glorious.

But celebrating these wonderful freedoms shouldn’t come at the cost of common sense. That means not firing a gun in the air.

“It’s beyond reckless to shoot a gun in the air, because you have no control over where that bullet’s going to come down,” Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said.

And yes, this actually happens.

A 13-year-old Hammond boy was in critical condition Monday after police say he was struck by a falling bullet that was likely fired into the air during a Fourth of July celebration, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

By shooting a gun into the air, you’re not only endangering your own life and the lives of your fellow ‘Mericans, you’re endangering the lives of those in your not-so-immediate surroundings.

But there’s no way a falling bullet can actually kill someone, right?

Let’s get technical for a second.

While a bullet that’s been fired into the air won’t fall at the same velocity at which it was fired — air resistance, caliber of bullet, angle of fire all factor in here — falling bullets can return to the ground at speeds of up to 200 to 300 feet per second, according to Forensic Outreach, a United Kingdom-based education and consulting company.

That’s fast enough to pierce skin, sometimes leading to hospitalization and treatment for injuries.

While celebratory gunfire deaths aren’t exactly common, Perrine said they’re also known to cause property damage, leaving bullet holes in the roofs of nearby vehicles and elsewhere.

“Those are the ones we find,” he said. “You probably wouldn’t find a bullet hole in your roof, or outside in your yard.”

And while Perrine said it’s not necessarily illegal to fire a gun into the air, revelers could potentially face charges of recklessly pointing a firearm, if caught. It could also be considered criminal recklessness, which is defined in the Indiana Code as “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally performs an act that creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person.”

Perrine urged those celebrating this week to use common sense avoid doing something as “very dumb” as shooting into the air.

“A gun is a deadly weapon and it’s not something to be used to celebrate something with,” Perrine said.