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Can bullets fired into the air kill you when they fall down?

As Libyan rebels celebrate by firing into the air, we’re wondering if all those falling bullets can have fatal consequences…

A Libyan rebel shoots in the air at a checkpoint in the Bab El Bahrah district in Tripoli yesterday.
A Libyan rebel shoots in the air at a checkpoint in the Bab El Bahrah district in Tripoli yesterday.
Image: AP Photo/Francois Mori/PA

WHAT HAPPENS to all the bullets fired into the air? We’re asking because watching CNN, it seems like everyone in Tripoli, LIbya is out firing automatic weapons into the air.

It has us wondering: Where will all those bullets land? Could they actually kill someone?

Turns out the answer is yes.


In the case of a bullet fired at a precisely vertical angle (something extremely difficult for a human being to duplicate), the bullet would tumble, lose its spin, and fall at a much slower speed due to terminal velocity and is therefore rendered less than lethal on impact. However, if a bullet is fired upward at a non-vertical angle (a far more probable possibility), it will maintain its spin and will reach a high enough speed to be lethal on impact.

Because of this potentiality, firing a gun into the air is illegal in most [US] states, and even in the states that it is legal, it is not recommended by the police. Also the MythBusters were able to identify two people who had been injured by falling bullets, one of them fatally injured. To date, this is the only myth to receive all three ratings at the same time.

Read more articles on Business >

Read: Muammar Gaddafi vows to fight on but is yet to be seen >

Watch: Libyan rebels take Gaddafi compound – but no sign of Muammar >

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