SST reprinted today an article from the Guardian pointing out that celebratory gunfire can be lethal, news that won't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the principle "what goes up, must come down."
This was one of the (many) things that used to drive me nuts about living in Kuwait. Liberation Day, birthdays, weddings, you name it, munters would be out on the street with AK47s left behind by the Iraqis, emptying the magazines into the air and relying on Allah to see to it that the bullets magically disappear. For some strange, unfathomable reason, I mean you really just can't figure out how this is even possible, it seems like Allah actually doesn't make the bullets disappear and they come back down to earth again, occasionally through the top of people's heads.
In a combat zone, the celebratory gunfire can be lethal to the shooters too. In both Afghanistan and Libya, there've been incidents of NATO air crews believing themselves to be under fire and responding by pulverising a bunch of Afghans or Libyans who were merely having a bit of a knees-up. The Afghans complained bitterly at the loss of an entire wedding party this way, but for regular forces in a combat zone the question of whether the bullets whistling past your ear were actually aimed at you or not is something you sort out after returning fire.
This general lack of interest in firearms safety and fire discipline in the Middle East, and the accompanying stubborn refusal to recognise that carelessly discharging firearms is likely to kill people, has been particularly noticable in news footage coming out of Tripoli the last week or so, in which the reporters accompany video of rebels firing indiscrimately on city streets with stories about civilians randomly shot by "government snipers." Er, right. Government snipers. That must be it - what other explanation could there be for people randomly shot down in the street or through the windows of their houses? I kid you not, I watched one item in the news featuring a guy on a Tripoli street trying to walk while holding a machine gun over his head and firing beltloads of ammunition in the general direction of "away," and the next scene was of the reporter earnestly telling us how the hospitals were filling up with civilians randomly shot by "Gaddafi's snipers." It makes you want to bang your head on the desk.