Gunplay: Hollywood and the Reality of Gun Use

We have all seen it in a typical action movie, a bad guy gets meets his end after catching a couple in the chest goes sailing off of his feet and onto the ground. It looks way cool but how realistic is it? It turns out Hollywood has been getting the reality of what a gun, or more importantly the bullet that comes out of it, wrong for decades.

One has to look at things in perspective, a bullet compared to the weight of a human body, even a person of small build, is tiny. Take a 230 grain bullet from a .45 ACP, which weighs a little over half an ounce in weight. There is no way that the energy from that bullet is going to pick up a two hundred pound man and throw him off of his feet, but that is not Hollywood’s only gun gaffe.

Hollywood has always liked to bloody things up a bit, and nothing looks better on screen than seeing bullets tearing holes into somebody, and then blasting gigantic exit wounds through their back. Anyone who has ever hunted either big or small game will tell you that even a high powered caliber like a .30-06 does not make that overly big of a hole even if it strikes bone. I have seen whitetail deer killed with shotgun slugs and even the entrance and exit wounds were only slightly larger than the diameter of the slug that made them. Ask any hunter who has spent hours on their hands and knees looking for a blood trail after they shot a deer or other large animal about how messy a wound a bullet really makes. For the most part its all make believe.

Unfortunately for gun owners, those who have no use for guns or have never shot them may take what they on screen as gospel, and use it to their advantage. I have had on more than one occasion had to explain to someone, surprisingly more adults than children, what the bullet from a gun is really capable of. They too have taken what they have seen as a basis for fact, thinking that what they are seeing is real and not the product of special effects and editing.

How actors actually handle guns is usually not a source sound model of gun safety either and, in as a widely disseminated model, can be dangerous as well. There is nothing cooler looking than a wannabe pistolero handling a revolver and after checking to make sure it’s loaded slapping the cylinder shut with one hand. It looks way cool but after a few of those neat looking maneuvers that gun will quickly get out of time and be useless.

Another poor gun handling display is to slap shut a break open shotgun with one hand, which does wonders for the hinges and pins in the action. I have witnessed this and the cylinder slap many times at gun shows often to the dismay of the seller.

The weird world of Hollywood has been portraying guns and the things that come out of them as unrealistically as possible for as long as I can remember. As gun owners we have to make sure that in this day and age of never ending video games and television that we educate the younger generation about what they see. They are the future and they hold the rights we enjoy in their hands, even if they don’t know it. We have to make sure that we set the facts straight for them.