Monday, January 02, 2017

TX: State Rep. (D) Harlingen struck in Head by Stray Bullet

Just after midnight on 1 January, 2017, Texas Representative Amando "Mando" Martinez was struck on the head by a bullet or bullet fragment. It seems most likely that it was celebratory gunfire, and a "spent" projectile.  From themonitor.com:
The incident, which is being investigated by the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, reportedly occurred just after midnight Sunday, when Martinez was celebrating the New Year with family and friends outside a residence located north of Weslaco in the 5400 block of Sago.

The sheriff said Martinez felt something on top of his head and was rushed to a local hospital after the representative's wife observed a small hole on the top left side of her husband's head.

A deadly conduct investigation has been launched in reference to the incident, the sheriff said.
Looking for more information on the injury, I found that the bullet had penetrated the skull.. barely. That is a very serious injury, and not to be made light of.  Usually bullets that retain enough force to penetrate an adult skull are fired at relatively low angles.  To further complicate the case, it was reported that a bullet fragment was removed, not a complete bullet.  If the bullet were falling at terminal velocity, powered by gravity alone, It is far less likely that the bullet would fragment.  From valleycentral.com:
The bullet went through Martinez's skull, but didn't cause any brain damage.

"Truly the hand of God, you know," said Martinez, a Democrat who represents the mid-Valley.

Doctors at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco transferred him to Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, where surgeons removed the bullet fragment.
 Without pictures of the projectile removed, forensic detection work will have to be left to the officers in Hidalgo County who are investigating the case.

Celebratory gunfire can be practiced safely.   People could use blanks or fire bird shot into the air.   The terminal velocity of bird shot is so low that it will not even damage car paint.  The major problem is the same as with any activity.  Drunken idiots who engage in it are likely to cause problems.   Virtually all deaths associated with guns fired into the air occur because the gun is fired at an angle enough from the vertical to retain damaging velocity when it impacts.

Theoretically, single projectiles could hit a low flying aircraft accidentally, but I have yet to hear of such a case.

The number of fatalities from celebratory gunfire is very low, in the low single digits per year.

They could all be prevented if people used a little common sense.   But in a nation of 300+ million people, there are bound to be those who make very stupid mistakes that cost other people their lives.   Whether it is taking your eyes off the road for 10 seconds while traveling at freeway speeds, or firing a rifle or pistol into the air at a 45 degree angle in a densely populated urban environment, it happens.

Staying under a roof at midnight means your chances of getting hit are so close to zero as to be meaningless.

 ©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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