Tuesday, October 17, 2006

peppered: when flacks collide

tdw links to an interesting story in the post-tribune about hunting at lake michigan. apparently hunting season began this past weekend, and already innocent park visitors have started getting "peppered" with buckshot:

Hunting season officially started this weekend and while those who practice the sport were grabbing their guns and heading to the fields with smiles on their faces, others were reaping the fallout of Indiana's relatively loose hunting regulations.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources allows hunting along Lake Michigan shorelines, unlike Illinois where shoreline hunting is against the law, said Carolyn Marsh of the Lake Michigan Calumet Advisory Council.

Marsh is against the practice in areas that tend to be populated by people, and has urged Gov. Mitch Daniels to take action for safety reasons.

But Gene Davis, conservation officer with the DNR, said there aren't safety problems, even in areas that may be populated by people, because the gun pellets don't typically pose a threat to safety.

"The people were at no risk of being injured, because when the shot pellets fall down, they don't have any more energy left in them," said Davis, who wasn't aware of Sunday's incident.

tdw notes the absurdity of gene davis's claim that falling pellets pose no risk of injury: even if this were true, getting hit by falling buckshot is surely not a pleasant experience. "it felt like hail," one of the victims said of the experience. maybe moutain dew-chugging "extreme sports" enthusiasts would jump at the chance to dance in a pellet rain, but the average person would not.

perhaps a physics lesson is in order. i took physics during last period of my senior year in high school, a class that was completely overcome by senioritis, so correct me if i'm wrong here, but i'd think the standard laws of gravity would disagree with davis. from wikipedia:

Every planetary body, including the Earth, is surrounded by its own gravitational field, which exerts an attractive force on any object that comes under its influence. This field is proportional to the body's mass and varies inversely with the square of distance from the body. The gravitational field is numerically equal to the acceleration of objects under its influence, and its value at the Earth's surface, denoted g, is approximately 9.81 m/s2 or 32.2 ft/s2. This means that, ignoring air resistance, an object falling freely near the earth's surface increases in speed by 9.81 m/s (around 22 mph) for each second of its descent. Thus, an object starting from rest will attain a speed of 9.81 m/s after one second, 19.62 m/s after two seconds, and so on.

in other words, if you shoot your buckshot 32 feet into the air, it will come back down at "around 22 mph". if you shoot 64' into the air, it'll come down at around 44mph, and so on. maybe not enough to kill you, but surely enough to take out an eye or bruise your children. and i've never been hunting (no desire), but i don't imagine it's too uncommon to shoot 64 feet or more into the air.

but what's really funny is that marion county prosecutor carl brizzi said virtually the opposite last week when trying to persuade the press why his prosecution of indiana pacer stephen jackson wasn't just grandstanding:

Carl Brizzi charged Fingers' cousin, Deon "Dino" Willford, with battery, failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident and operating a vehicle without a license. But what bothered the prosecutor even more is when Jackson kept shooting his 9 millimeter with a parking lot full of people.

"Those bullets go up and have to come down at least at 90 miles per hour and they do have the ability to take someone's life," Brizzi said.

so stephen jackson firing into the air could take someone's life, but hundreds of hunters firing repeatedly into the air for weeks or months won't cause so much as a minor injury?

to be fair, jackson's 9mm bullets are larger than buckshot pellets, and jackson was firing straight up rather than at an angle, so his bullets went up higher and thus would come down faster. but the basic physics are the same, and bits of metal falling from the sky can most assuredly hurt you.

No comments: