Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gunshot Wounds: What The NRA Won't Show You

At the beginning of this month, I heard that doctors had been asked to weigh in on the gun control debate. That's the last I heard about it. Some representative of the NRA or  other gun advocate is on the news at least once a day, but nothing more from the medical world. We hear all about guns--how different ones work, etc.--and, in an abstract way, about gun victims, yet nothing about gunshot wounds.

As a mystery writer, I'd be pretty poor at my job if I only researched various types of guns for my novels, without also researching what the bullets from those guns do when they enter a human body.

In a way, I agree that part of our nation's gun problem is the way Hollywood and video games depict gun violence, though my thinking is that the depictions aren't violent enough. No fictional video shooting depicts what really happens when a person is shot. If they did, a lot of Americans wouldn't rush to defend gun laws. They'd be too grossed out. I can't even post crime scene and autopsy photos here because, frankly, I can't stand to look at them for more than a moment myself. I won't make my readers look at them without warning. I'll include links at the end of this blog so those of you brave enough can go click on them. I'm guessing it won't be the gun proponents who look.

Suffice it to say that a bullet will put a hole in you slightly bigger than the diameter of the ammo. Once the skin is pierced, though, the wound fans out. The exit wound is bigger than the entrance wound. Depending on the power of the gun and size of the ammo, the exit wound can be huge. In the case of President Kennedy, for example, the entrance wound was very small (photo here).  The bullet then blew off much of his skull, taking most of his brain out with it. Film footage shows the First Lady freaking out, not simply because her husband had been shot, but because she witnessed the insides of his head getting splattered all over the backseat of convertible.

Short of being close to a bomb going off, a gunshot is probably the worst violation the human body can suffer. Lots of people who buy guns to defend their homes and families only imagine what they've seen on TV, or those neat round holes in firing range targets. Unless they've been to war or served as a law enforcement professionals, they don't understand what will happen if they point their guns at people and pull the trigger. No policeman I know is against sensible gun control. Not one.

This subject's close to my heart because since late October, my town has had two gun murders, several injuries, and reports of gunfire in the streets at least once a week.  Between living in what feels like a war zone and the 7 mass shootings last year alone, I'm tired of hearing that nothing can be done.

If you took a high school driver ed. course, you no doubt were shown gory movies about what happens to the human body in a fatal car accident. Maybe we should start by requiring would-be gun owners to view photos of real gunshot victims. Maybe we should put photos of gunshot wounds on the packaging of firearms designed strictly for the shooting of human beings, like we do on cigarette packs.

As disgusted as I hope you are,


Forensic article on gunshot wounds. Click on blue highlighted words to see photos.
Patterns of Tissue Injury. Collection of gunshot wound photos.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beth Ann's Blog for Eco-Geeks

You might have noticed that I haven't posted here since August. I think I've exhausted the subject of writing, so I've been rethinking what to do with this space. Meantime, Beth Ann (teen science whiz and costar of my Possessed Mystery Series), asked if she could use my blog to save the earth. Could I say no? Here's her first entry.

Wind Energy Turned On Its Side
by Beth Ann Lee

Last summer, London's Olympic Park included 7 vertical axis wind turbines. Here's a photo.

They look pretty classy, don't they? Less offensive than a lot of cables strung all over a city.

A vertical axis turbine can catch wind from any direction. They're more efficient than a standard wind turbine because they don't require a minimum wind speed or power to start. They're also quieter. These could easily be used on roadways to offset or fulfill the power needs of streetlamps and  traffic lights, and on bridges for a de-icing grid. One turbine can provide up to 7500 kWh per year, making them a viable power source for home rooftops.

You can read more about London's turbines here.
Turbines in Olympic Park
Another type of vertical axis turbine


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