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Wednesday, 28 July 2010


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Note the category for this post. I am really, really sorry. I need to go sit in the corner for about a month for that.


Hmmm. A sad and tragic story, definitely, and I'm sorry for whoever he left behind. My condolences.

But as a European, I was thinking about the term "shoot" (for photography) for a while already. "Take photographs" is longer, but I definitely prefer it. My favourite topic is portraiture and people photography, be it in the streets or elsewhere. But I don't "shoot people" - I'm taking their photographs.

Shooting guns at weddings and other celebrations is a "normal" occurrence in many a part of the world. From Sicily to Russia and beyond. Yeah, Croatia included. There's even a special name for it in the neighbourhood.

You should have heard Christmasses and New Years during the war and immediately afterwards. Like so many invasions of Normandy. There's an urban legend (I hope!) about a guy who once shot mortar shells during his New Year's "celebration" here in Zagreb.

On a worldwide basis I think celebratory gunfire at weddings is much more common than in North America. Of course, there is always the odd discharge of a pistol in the direction of paparazzi at celebrity weddings by over zealous bodyguards.

God what a horrible way to go. I'm glad I got out of the business before anyone shot me.

Odd coincidence regarding this http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/07/26/100726fa_fact_franzen>article in the New Yorker. He talks about Italians and their glee for shooting song birds.

Yes, Michael, even whilst you still are among the people who are a mensch, you ought to sit in a corner for that.

Looks like they had to violate all three of the basic NRA gun safety rules. Which is precisely why using firearms as props on an uncontrolled set with alcohol probably (I agree) involved is such a bad idea.

Those safety rules are really important!

ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

And the US gets the bad rap for gun violence ! I guess people it's more upsetting to be shot by a criminal than to be shot by friends and family :)

The shooting of automatic weapons to celebrate weddings is apparently also done by Palestinians. According to a report by the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group titled "Small Arms, Light Weapons and Insecurity in Palestine":
"The third issue concerning weapons held by families and clans is their misuse in certain occasions, usually during weddings. In order to celebrate weddings, often people shoot in the air. Unfortunately, the consequences can be tragic, resulting in injuries or even deaths. For example, on the 6th of August 2006, three children were killed by bullets during a wedding in the city of Jenin."

I used to video wedding videos, which were almost always Italian. We covered a massive wedding, (650 guests) where we had to get the traditional shots of the bride at home. A uncle asked us what we were doing, and we said "just taking some shots around the bride's home." He asked us if we had brought our own guns. Truly.
6 hours of 2 camera vhs edited down to a brain curdling 3 hours people! Why could I not bring my own guns? If the edit suite walls could talk, they would bear witness to the most dense barrage of obscenities and screaming any room has ever had to take as we manhandled these monsters through a VHS edit suite with a 1 second rollback error.
Yes it is a tragic story, but the guns should be in the hands of the photographers who have to wrangle groups of relatives into some coherent formation.
A Blad in one hand and a gatling gun in the other. That's the way to do thiis type of wedding.

I never knew that the custom of shooting off guns to celebrate something carried over to Italy (Sicily), but I know that it was very common when I lived in Venezuela.

Here in California, the police are making headway into stamping out the custom of shooting off guns the welcome the new year.

An additional fact no mentioned in your post is that the photographer was shot prior to the wedding, in the home of the bride's parents. It was his idea to use the rifle as a prop. No one will say who was holding the rifle when it fired, but the number of suspects has to be small and is probably limited to members of the wedding party.

The poor, poor man. There's no telling when your number will come up, I guess.

This is the second such story I've read this year. In the first a groom was shot by his own uncle mistakenly as he and the bride were leaving the wedding.


Not just Sicily, it's common in many areas in the Middle East. You'd think they'd have figured out that bullets hurt a lot when falling down, as well.


Yes, it does put "getting good shots" in a whole new context, doesn't it?

How about blanks? How about the 4 Rules? How about no drunk, nervous people around guns?

The category was the best part.

My son "shot" a wedding in south Louisiana, and the reception was held at someone's house in a remote location. After everyone got drunk, the bride and groom decided it was time to get out the guns and have some target practice. My son didn't stick around to see what happened.

"I need to go sit in the corner for about a month for that."

And what about for inciting a torrent of shameful camera/gun jokes in my mind this morning?

Dear Wolfgang,

I'm like you-- I don't "shoot." I don't even "take photographs." I make them.

I think the language matters. But then, that is (part of) my business. Ain't prescribing for others.

OTOH, paparazzi definitely "shoot" and "take pictures." He said dismissively.

pax / pedantic Ctein

As an Englander, I'm a tad agog to learn of the "4 rules" business - brought to you Americans, I presume, by the NRA? (Motto: '30,000 US gun-related accidents a year - Hey, we care!') A bit like Philip Morris sticking a warning on cigarette packets: 'Please suck responsibly'.

As Lars wrote, bullets DO hurt when they fall down. When I lived in safe, civilized suburban Wheaton, Illinois, USofA (30mi/45km west of Chicago), a spectator at the town's fireworks display got critically injured by a falling bullet presumably shot straight in the air from a rowdy backyard party on the other side of the park. My one year of introductory college physics taught me that the bullet has to be traveling as fast when it's about to hit the ground as it did when it was shot straight up (okay, I'm not accounting for air resistance, but I presume that can't be too a big factor with a bullet ...).

James: The NRA isn't a gun manufacturer or an industry group; they ARE the primary organization training and certifying firearms safety instructors. The NRA saying to use guns responsibly is like the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) saying to try to avoid accidents on their rally courses -- which is exactly what they do say.

The number of accidents has been declining steadily, as the number of guns owned by Americans has increased rapidly (it's nearly at one per person). The decrease in accidents is, I believe, largely due to NRA training.

I don't know your source for that statistic; I usually see numbers for fatal accidents, rather than overall. For fatal accidents, it's about 600 a year for guns, vs. 16,000 for accidental falls, 12,000 for accidental poisoning, 5,300 for pedestrian fatalities, 3,900 for drowning, 3,600 for burns, 3,400 for choking to death, and so forth. More people die in bicycle accidents than gun accidents. And then cars account for well over 30,000 a year.

Meanwhile, on the plus side, there are over two million defensive uses of guns a year by people in the US.

(The NRA teaches a three-rule set, the ones I quoted above. Other groups use other sets of three or four rules, but they all overlap in meaning fairly completely. And if you follow them, you're MUCH less likely to get hurt or to hurt somebody else!)

Carl: The physics of falling bullets has been a remarkably contentious topic of debate. General Hatcher did an early set of tests that showed that falling bullets do not have enough energy to penetrate military helmets (whereas a direct shot does; those helmets aren't armor, they're for protection from shrapnel and falling bullets and things).

Even bullets do slow down a lot from air resistance.

It turns out that it makes a huge difference if the bullets are shot STRAIGHT up, or shot at an angle. Hatcher's tests were shot straight up, and the bullets tumbled and slowed down much more than if they were shot at an angle. Most celebratory shooting is pretty random, but almost never straight up, so those bullets come down fast enough to enter your head (though much slower than they started out).

One of the most common non-NRA forms of one of the rules is "Always be sure of your target and what's beyond it" (meaning, what your bullet will hit if it misses or goes through the target). Obviously, shooting at random into the air is a violation of this rule. (In the NRA rules, I'd say that "at random into the air" is not a "safe direction"; as I just said in a previous comment, the different sets of rules end up meaning about the same things.)

Dear Carl,

Ah, now we're into the realm of physics. Lots of military and forensic research on this subject. Air resistance has a huge effect. The terminal velocity of a small caliber bullet in air is only around 15% of the muzzle velocity from a gun.

That's the good news. The bad news is that's more than sufficient energy for the bullet to penetrate the body, and while I don't know if it's enough to penetrate the skull, it would be like getting hit on the head with a hammer.

As the old joke goes, "Doctor, it hurts when I do that! So, don't do that!"

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

So, stop bringing guns to weddings maybe? Does that make too much sense?

I'm sure many a young, reluctant bridegroom would agree with you, Mike...


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