My favorite myth about gunshots is the one Hollywood loves most: the backward flying gun-shot victim who dies instantly from the wound. That one seems transparent enough, though. Here are five others that are harder to shake.
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#5. Women are more likely to survive
Women are tough. How do I know? They keep telling me. Something about having children, and how painful that is.
Just ask Tammy Sexton. In 2009, her husband shot her in the head and then turned the gun on himself. She survived. He did not.
But a 2010 study shows they are actually 14% more likely to survive a traumatic injury, reportedly because of higher levels of estrogen. However, a 2005 study reveals that women experience more pain than men due to nearly double the density of nerve fibers.
So, while they are more likely to survive, it’s going to hurt a heck of a lot more along the way.
#4. Tiny Details Make a Big Difference.
Whether it’s size (it matters), angle, speed, or just plain luck – little things make a big difference in just how much suck you’re going to experience after getting shot.
The single biggest determining factor is where you’re struck. Clearly being hit in the head, although not always fatal, is usually far worse than being shot in the arm or the hand.
There is a common misconception that a rifle bullet is more deadly than a handgun bullet. This is hardly the case. Some rifle bullets travel so fast that they don’t expand when they hit a person, and they simply punch a hole clean through.
As for being struck in the arm. It still sucks – even if you’re blessed with a superhuman healing factor.
The best practice is to avoid getting shot with anything.
#3. A bullet-proof vest isn’t always.
So many have learned this lesson the hard way. There are different levels of bullet-proof. Most soft body armor will stop handgun ammo (but not all handgun ammo). Hard plates are usually rated to withstand rifle fire (but not all rifle fire).
Ceramics and carbon nano-tubes are making huge leaps forward. Still–it is probably best not to volunteer for the testing of these products.
The thing to remember here is that a vest only covers a very small area. They’re designed to cover vital organs. And when you take a direct hit, you take a direct hit. Your vest may stop the penetration of the bullet, but there is a lot of energy that has to be dispersed. Even a small handgun round can feel like a sledgehammer to the chest.
But it is better than the alternative.
#2. Getting shot is expensive. Really expensive.
Actually getting shot is relatively inexpensive. Surviving the gunshot wound can be very costly. I don’t want to put a negative spin on this. The video below has an almost you’ll-wish-you-were-dead tone to it. But it can be pricey.
Reconstructive surgery, even with insurance, often has a price. Hospital stays are very expensive. And then there are many instances of people surviving gunshots, but being unable to return to their normal lives.
The new-normal may require accommodations to the home, or to work. You may not be able to work. On the other hand, the doctors might just cut the bullet from between your toes, and you’ll be back to work on Monday.
Or you could just keel over. Living is better than dying. I think.
#1. Guns aren’t the only things that shoot you.
I once saw a friend who was framing a deck sink a big nail right through his thumb with a nail gun. Maybe that’s not as bad as getting shot with a gun, but it messed up his thumb just the same.
But what about getting shot with a particle accelerator, like Anatoli Bugorski? He was cleaning the accelerator when it shot a tiny particle through his head. This would be such a terrible way to go. Like with guns, it isn’t always the size of the bullet, but the speed of the projectile that is lethal.
Or, like old Phineas Gage (below). He sparked off a powder blast while he still had his drilling rod in the hole. It blew the steel rod through his skull. It also made him 19th century famous.
To his credit, Gage lived a long time after.
Here’s hoping that you never have to find out any of these things the hard way.