The Truth About Hollywood Guns

Samuel Boyenga

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It’s no secret that most of the movies we watch and the entertainment we consume sacrifices the conventional rules of science in order to create a more thrilling experience. This isn’t a negative thing, as some of the most beloved films and tv shows break the laws of what is/ isn’t possible, such as: Star Wars, Mission Impossible, Saw, The Fast and the Furious, and so on… Rules of physics, gravity, sound, chemistry are all bypassed in these films and thus allow the producers and actors to more freely express their artistic styles and visions, creating the products they and the consumers want. However, because of this there is a large amount of misinformation that is taught to viewers, and not everyone is adept enough to know when something is scientific fact or Hollywood fiction. And there’s no better example than with firearms.

Apart from a few movies who do a relatively good job at portraying the handling, use, and effects of guns such as: Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and The Hurt Locker. Most movies and television treat these loud, powerful, heavy and sometimes clunky pieces of machinery as toys that shoot wherever you want and whenever you want and can be whipped around and aimed as if they weighed nothing. The truth is even your basic 9mm handgun can weigh in at just under 2 pounds, and produce quite the kickback. It takes years of practice and proper discipline to handle guns even half as efficiently as portrayed by big screen stars like Ryan Reynolds, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and so on…

Another misrepresentation is the speed at which bullets fly out of the barrel, and often is greatly underestimated. Good guys and bad guys dodging projectiles like they were Nerf darts, it’s just not possible. MythBusters has a great experiment where they test the reflexes of an average human being when fired at by a faraway sniper, and the results would immediately debunk almost anything the entertainment industry has put out. Your standard AR-15 bullet can travel as fast as 3,251 feet per second, meaning that you would have just over a second to react if you were fired upon by the same rifle a mile away. So you can imagine someone being shot at just 100 feet away. Also, guns aren’t immune to jamming, breaking, and most importantly reloading. With some of the ways that people treat their firearms in movies and tv realistically they would had some issues by then. And something that is heavily misrepresented in The Walking Dead is ammo! Guns need bullets to shoot, and there’s only so many that they can hold and that someone can carry. A typical 12 gauge 00 buckshot shotgun shell can weigh just under 1 oz. each, and so just having 16 of them is already a pound.

Once again, it’s no secret that entertainment commonly overestimates/underestimates certain things, and 99.99% of the time it is to allow more artistic freedom and to create a more fun/ enjoyable experience. But there have been some accidents out there that can be linked to the misunderstanding of real-world items due to films, movies, video games etc… So just be careful, know what it is you’re doing, and identify scientific fact from Hollywood fiction.

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The Truth About Hollywood Guns