Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Celebratory Gunfire

A TWO month old was on the arms of his father as they watch the revelries probably facing Chavit Singson's Baluarte where the fireworks were always impressive. A two year old boy was asleep in their sala, after being awake since 11 PM. When 2014 finally entered, the baby is dead after being hit by a stray bullet while the two year old never woke up, a bullet in his skull brought him to a coma and he died two days later.
Both were killed in Ilocos where it was indeed a tradition to fire your guns on New year's Eve, a remnant of their Chinese heritage of making noise to drive away evil. In other countries, this practice is called celebratory gunfire. it is accepted culturally in South Asia, Middle East, the Balkans and sometimes in the United States.  But this time it was the evil-shooers who were the evil ones.
Why use guns? We have been asking that for decades and we have not come out with an answer that will stop them.
How does a stray bullet kill. When you shoot your gun exactly vertically, the bullet will come back at a terminal velocity which is slower than when it just came from the barrel of the gun. It can still kill sometimes the one who fired the gun but it is more dangerous when the bullet is allowed to fall n its natural path because it maintains its angular ballistic trajectory and so is faster than terminal velocity.  Nevertheless the terminal velocity reaches 300 ft per second or 90 meters per second; the speed that can puncture the skin starts at 200 ft per second. Most stray bullets hit the head, feet and shoulders, which was the case in the two Ilocos deaths.
In the Cordillera, there were no cases of injuries caused by celebratory gunfire but that does not mean that no one shot his gun in the air. It was just luck that no one was hit. 
We have to congratulate ourselves and yet do something that will stop this practice next New year and the years to come. The police have their annual ceremonies of taping their guns but what about the other gun holders? 
 We are recommending a gun ban during the Holidays similar to the election gun ban. The communist insurgents always declare a Holiday truce so we have one reason to stop shooting anyway. 
But unlike election gun ban, it would be Scrooge-like to recommend an alcohol ban. But we all know that alcohol and noise makes one to fire his gun in comradeship so a ban is important. Since injuries are almost always on the upper torso, we don't want to lose our heads at the start of year. 


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