Please, We Implore You, Don’t Try to Shoot The Balloon
Conservatives are fantasizing about taking their shot at bringing down the reported Chinese Spy Balloon floating over the Midwest. We cannot stress it enough: THAT IS A BAD IDEA.
The balloon is located at an altitude of about 66,000 feet (12.5 miles), high above the airspace where commercial airliners typically fly. It is way, way, way above the altitude where a bullet could reach it. The Department of Defense has indicated that while taking military-based action to shoot down the balloon is being considered, the concern of potential harm to civilians by falling debris has stayed their hand.
If you tried to shoot the balloon yourself, here’s how it would go: you would shoot your gun into the air, the bullet would travel (up to about a mile), and then gravity would pull it back down. The speed the descending bullet travels at could still be deadly if you hit someone, or yourself, if you’re shooting at a high angle. Falling bullets can also land far off from their planned descent, putting individuals in the area at risk.
Despite the clear danger posed by firing a gun at a target you absolutely will not hit, prominent conservative figures, second amendment advocates, and even gun manufacturers are encouraging their followers to take matters into their own hands.
Former First Son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted to his followers that if the government won’t take down the balloon “perhaps we just let the good people of Montana do their thing… I imagine they have the capability and the resolve to do it all themselves. “
House Representative Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) told his Twitter followers to “take the shot.” Zinke wrote, “in Montana we do not bow. We shoot it down.”
Ohio Senator J.D. Vance tweeted an image of himself staring at the sky while posing with a rifle.
Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake tweeted an image of herself holding a rifle with the caption, “I’m told there’s a balloon that needs to be taken care of?” The balloon is nowhere near Arizona.
KAK Industry, a firearm component manufacturing company, offered fans an “AR of your choice on the house” to whoever brought the balloon down.
And I know it sounds like a joke, but there are signs people are actually thinking about it. Republican Montana Senator Steve Daines told Fox News that he became aware of the balloon’s existence after his office received several calls from constituents asking if it was O.K. to “take a shot at it.”
Thankfully (in some places) sense is prevailing. The military news and culture outlet Task & Purpose issued a “safety brief” on Twitter. “Do not shoot at the balloon. It is too high up. You will not hit it.”
So here at Rolling Stone we implore you to spare yourself the potential harm to you and others, or at least the wasted ammo, and allow the experts with access to the appropriate resources to pop that bad boy.