Think before you kill

People considering aerial firing should ask themselves if this practice is worth putting someone’s life at risk.

Talha Nadeem December 27, 2011
As a citizen of Karachi, I’m not particularly startled when I hear gunfire late at night. In most cases, I assume that it’s aerial firing to mark a wedding or similar festivity. No cause for alarm, right?

Wrong. Aerial firing has been known to kill, with several documented cases over the years available to back this claim.

Personally, despite having read news of people getting killed by ‘stray bullets’ for a while now, I’d never understood how such accidents happened. Over time, I developed a vague notion that they occurred when a shot was fired at an acute angle from the ground upward, creating the possibility of the ascending bullet striking someone located at an elevation. By extension, I never felt threatened when I watched people fire straight up into the open air.

It was while reading Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke that my assumptions on the subject were called into question. A character mentioned in the book dies from aerial gunfire while sleeping on a rooftop. Soon after I’d put the book aside, a friend texted me describing how a stray bullet had shattered her car’s wind-screen overnight. The damage was seemingly caused by a descending bullet on its return trip to the ground. That’s when I hit the search-engines.

My rudimentary research suggests that while angles, wind resistance and the type of gun used play a role in determining how deadly aerial gunfire can be, there remains every probability of it causing injury to an unsuspecting victim even when bullets are sprayed at right angles (straight up) into the sky.

I confess that I engaged in aerial firing myself for the first time about a year ago — and found it highly exhilarating. Being wiser now, I intend to refrain from the activity in future. Somehow, I don’t see myself lecturing others to follow suit though — that would surely put me at risk of being labelled a spoilsport. Ideally, individuals considering a round of celebratory aerial firing should ask themselves a simple question: is it worth putting someone’s life at risk?

I rest my case.
Talha Nadeem A sub-editor at the sports desk of The Express Tribune.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Faaiz Abbasi | 12 years ago | Reply The year that has just begun saw the demise of many due to yours only, stray bullets. My next door neighbor (father of three girls) came out precisely at 12 am on new years eve and fired some 12 shots with his 9mm and then went inside. That was the height of his celebration of the start of 2012. While he did his part by firing the shots and making his presence felt, he was putting his neighbors at the a high risk of losing their beloveds. Food for thought. thank you Talha that there is a serious need to reconsider our ways of showing happiness!
FAZ | 12 years ago | Reply @naina: Since when did u become an authority and why should we listen to u or the world?? Go and read history yourself! This so called "jihad" mentality did not exist upto the 70's? It was the US that literally bred this form of Islam! Go and understand what "jihad" actually is, who has the authority to declare it and what are the rules of engagement during such a war. You would be surprised all of it is contraray to what is preached by these extremist. Its a pitty that we became a US ally back in the 80's against her own personal interests. And yes I feel pity coz I am patriotic. The problem with the world is that it it absolutely gives not even a crap to the fact that we lost 35000 people in this war! A war that was the result of the policies of the US aka the world 30 years back! This is exactly the same attitude that was displayed with the Germans after the WW1. Blame everything on the Germans! Result: And a hitler was born that brought manifold the hatred in return!
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