Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mind Your Head

Libyan rebels have celebrated their advance into Colonel Gaddafi's former base at Tripoli by firing their guns into the air. Usually it’s the good old Russian AK-47, global automatic firearm of choice for revolutionaries. Shooting a weapon into the sky to express triumph and euphoria is popular across much of the world, particularly in 'dry' countries where you can't get pissed off your head by way of merriment. But it’s also a potentially fatal activity which regularly results in the deaths of bystanders.

After Iraq's football team had defeated Vietnam in 2007's Asia Cup, amid widespread gunshots as fans celebrated in Baghdad three people were killed. Triumphant gunfire across Kuwait at the end of the 1991 Gulf War was blamed for 20 deaths.

In 2010 three people in the Philippines died due to stray bullets fired to welcome New Year's Eve. That year too, a Turkish bridegroom killed three relatives when he loosed off an AK-47 at his wedding.

Such were the problems in Macedonia that the government there ran a poster campaign with the slogan "Bullets Are Not Greeting Cards - Celebrate Without Weapons." Ahead of New Year's Eve 2005, Serbian authorities warned their citizens that "every bullet that is fired up must come down."

Studies suggest that, although the velocity of a falling bullet is lower than that of a round which has just been fired, it’s still sufficient to be fatal. On the evidence above, more than merely a suggestion surely.

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