Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lost Bullets Found!

Or, whatever goes up must come down....

It happens every new year: People in Colombia (and many other nations) celebrate New Year's by firing guns upwards, at the moon and stars. They forget that those bullets are gonna fall back down someplace or other, and that someone might be standing there.

In Colombia, such bullets are called 'balas perdidas,' or 'lost bullets.' And, unfortunately, in recent weeks, a few of them have found homes - inside of people who were standing under them. This year, several people were killed by such bullets and others injured, causing authorities to hold a meeting about how to deal with the problem. Reportedly, over the past decade a thousand Colombians have been killed by 'lost bullets,' although that total includes people caught in gang-gang and gang-police shoot-outs.

Celebrating this way is almost as insane as flying over a city firing a gun randomly down at the city, something which only a psychopath would do.

Somebody was under this bullet.
Unfortunately, however, as the U.S. has learned, there's no way to make firearms available to stable, law-abiding people without letting them get into the hands of drunks, crazies and criminals.

Here's a terrifying article about gun sales and use in Bogotá, including the fact that there are many illegal rent-a-gun outfits.

Colombia has strict gun control laws ( in order to get a gun license, you're supposed to prove that you're under a real threat) and has tried gun buy-back programs, but not enough enforcement. However, lots of bad guys still have illegal guns, and police complain that prosecuting for illegal gun possession is very difficult.

'I shot a bullet in the air,
It came back down I knew not where,
Until one day I found, 
The man it fell on came around.'

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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