Celebratory Gunfire

Yosemite Sam

Celebratory gunfire is the shooting of a firearm into the air in celebration. It is culturally accepted in the Balkans, the Middle East, the South Asian regions of Northern India as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan and Latin American regions such as Puerto Rico as well as some areas of the United States. The practice may result in random death and injury from stray bullets. Property damage is sometimes another result of celebratory gunfire; shattered windows and damaged roofs are often found after such celebrations. People are injured, sometimes fatally, when bullets discharged into the air fall back down. In Puerto Rico about two people die and about 25 more are injured each year from celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve.

The mortality rate among those struck by falling bullets is about 32%, compared with about 2% to 6% normally associated with gunshot wounds. The higher mortality is related to the higher incidence of head wounds from falling bullets.  Between the years 1985 and 1992, doctors at the King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, treated some 118 people for random falling-bullet injuries. Thirty-eight of them died. Kuwaitis celebrating in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War by firing weapons into the air caused 20 deaths from falling bullets.

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