Folks, it's time for another edition of firearm myths. We already dealt with this topic previously here, here and here. We will look into some more firearm myths which are prevalent in movies today.
1. If someone gets hit by a bullet, they get lifted off the ground and fly backwards.
In several movies, we have a scene where someone (villain, sidekick, red-shirt guy etc.) gets hit by a bullet shot from a handgun and is lifted clean off their feet and through a plate glass window, all by the force of the bullet hitting the person. Can this actually happen in real life? Well, let's recall some basic physics from middle school here. Newton's third law of motion states that, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".
Therefore, if there's enough energy in a bullet to send a person flying back 10 feet in the air, there should be an equal amount of recoil energy acting on the firearm, which would send the shooter of the firearm flying backwards 10 feet as well! (assuming that they are both the same weight, of course).
There are firearms that can deliver enough energy to knock a human off his feet (such as a very large caliber bullet or cannon shell), but these firearms are mounted on a weapons platform for a reason and are not carried in someone's pocket.
2. Cocking the pistol/shotgun/revolver to show that someone means business.
This scene is shown in several movies. Hero has a bad guy covered by his pistol and the bad guy is refusing to answer questions. The hero then dramatically pulls back on the hammer to cock the gun (or racks the shotgun's slide) and show the bad guy that he means business and the bad guy immediately starts talking.
In other scenes, the dramatic clicking sound happens when a character walks into a room and announces his/her presence and indicates that he or she is in control of the situation now.
In real life, no one ever walks into a dangerous area without their firearm already cocked and loaded and ready to go at a moment's notice. This is called Condition 0, which we studied a while ago when we were reading about carrying conditions.
Even more amusing is to hear the hammer cocking sound, when the actor is holding a hammerless action pistol, such as a Glock.
3. Firearms exhibiting features that shouldn't happen in real life.
As mentioned above in the previous myth, we often hear cocking noises out of firearms that don't typically make such a noise in real life. One example is the sound of a hammer being cocked back, when the character in question is holding a hammerless pistol, such as a Glock. Another example that is seen in several movies is the sound of a racking slide of a pump-action shotgun, when the character is holding a double-barreled model!
Then there's the scene where someone shoots 15 times without reloading, while holding a 6-shot revolver.
4. It's only a flesh wound.
In the movies, there seems to be a general idea that if someone gets shot in the arm, shoulder or the leg, the person will generally hobble around a bit, but will survive in the end. Then there is the scene where a person will shoot someone in the leg to prevent them from running away and the person getting shot doesn't die. Persons getting shot in the shoulder make a full recovery in the hospital after a couple of days.
In reality, there is no safe place where a person can be shot and be assured of not dying. There are some large arteries in the arms, shoulders and legs that can cause a person to die from blood loss within minutes if these are punctured. The shoulder joint is very complex and is hard to put back together if shattered by a bullet.
Police and soldiers also don't aim to intentionally wing someone. This is because there is a chance that the shot could miss and hit some other innocent person. Therefore, they are trained to aim at the center of mass, so that there is a greater chance of hitting the target. No one in their right mind ever shoots to wing someone, they always shoot to kill.
5. Put down your gun, officer, and step away, or else the hostage dies.
This is the classic scene in several movies. The hero or heroes barge into a room with their guns out, only to find the villain holding a gun pointed at a hostage's head. The villain then tells everyone to throw down their weapons and kick them towards him, or else he'll shoot the hostage. The heroes will do that and then the dramatic music starts.
No one ever wonders why the villain doesn't now just shoot the hero and the hostage and then make his escape. This is why, in real life, police officers and military forces are trained never to put down their guns in a hostage situation.