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Old August 11, 2009, 07:38 PM   #51
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Last weekend I was wakened by the sound of 8 distinct shots from an AK 47. I am sorry to say that a young man lost his life due to reasons that no one can explain. I have been hunting and spent many hours at the range but to hear these shots at 1am frightened me to death. The shooting happened at the end of my block but it sounded like it came from my living room! It is not anything like firecrackers or a car back firing! I am still shook over the incident.

The perp has not been apprehended as of this posting.
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Old August 11, 2009, 09:28 PM   #52
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I recently did hear some shots from my bedroom window. Fireworks go on not just on the 4th of July, but all summer. This was different. I actually could make out the sound of the recoil. Maybe it's the trained ear of a person who shoots and has been hearing fireworks every night for months, but I could. The other dead give away was within moments, the sound of the shots was followed by the sounds of commotion and screaming. I called 911, who I'm sure had been getting triple the number of calls for shots fired all summer, but as I was on the phone with dispatch, they confirmed a man had been shot.
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Old August 11, 2009, 10:14 PM   #53
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I just remembered something. When we were kids, we'd drop a lit firecracker in a cigar box and flip the lid closed. The resulting sound wasn't anything like a firecracker, & we were sure that it sounded a LOT like a gun shot.
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Old August 13, 2009, 04:02 PM   #54
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Yes and no. Depends on where. In my immediate vicinity, I guarantee it.

But the farther away you go, the sound can be muffled and distorted until it may not sound like familiar gunfire.
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Old August 13, 2009, 04:04 PM   #55
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I can tell when a movie uses the wrong type of gunshot audio for what an actor has in hand.

I can tell the difference between a typical bottleneck rifle cartridge and a handgun cartridge. I can tell the difference between an autopistol and a revolver cartridge. I can tell the difference between a shotgun and other cartridges.

But I immediately go to flinch/grab hip mode whenever a car backfires on the street. I did it last night, actually, in the parking lot of a local amusement park I was at, while I was out with friends.

I can't tell the difference (while unaware that gunshots are coming) between a car backfiring or other gunshot-like sounds, and those of actual gunshots.

However... I was drinking at Mill Avenue near ASU about 5 years ago and out on the patio of a bar. Heard a string of gunshots that were a block away. I called out right away they were gunshots, and that I counted 8 of them.

I was sheltered back in a corner behind a huge brick building, and way away from the street so I wasn't worried at all about it. A couple hours later (no more drinks in that time) I went to get my car from the parking lot... the drive by was on the far side of the parking lot I put my car in. Police tape all over, markers showing where brass was.
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Old August 13, 2009, 04:41 PM   #56
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Sometimes people present at shootings confuse the sound of gunfire with other sounds.
That is probably because the have not spent a lot of time around firearms. I live close to a highway, and the people that live across the highway from me own a bunch of land. We are outside the city limits, so the neighbors shoot some of their guns on a regular basis.

Sometimes, when I am having a get together and a bar-b-q, the neighbors will be across the highway shooting their guns. Its funny to watch my company when they hear the gun shots. They will jump and say "what was that?" Some times they will ask if that was a backfire from a car - they think that because we live close to the highway.

I just say "no, that is the neighbors over there shooting."
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Old August 13, 2009, 04:52 PM   #57
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I was once leaving a friends house very early in the morning around 3:30. I heard his neighbor being murdered around the corner. 5 quick pops I knew exactly what that sound was, and what it meant! The sound came from that a away, and I'm going this a away! My girlfriend has mistaken tons of sounds for guns shots. I live in a semi questionable neighbor hood. But when she sees me get up and check a window holding my 870 she knows that was a real gun shot. "If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready!"
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Old August 14, 2009, 10:56 AM   #58
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Not sure if I'd recognize it or not, since most of my experience around guns has been in a range with hearing protection on, which changes the characteristics of the sound, obviously.

Context has been discussed extensively, but I think the other piece of the puzzle is frequency. The odds of something being a gunshot are much lower, outside of a war zone, than it being anything else.

So combine context and exposure to the sound, with the unconscious understanding of the odds that it could be a gunshot, and it only makes sense that people would think it's something different.
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Old August 14, 2009, 12:59 PM   #59
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I live in a semi questionable neighbor hood. But when she sees me get up and check a window holding my 870 she knows that was a real gun shot. "If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready!"
Probably a good point that you would recognoze gunshots but if you are always on ready it would be more likely that you would mistake something different fro gunshots than gunshots for something else.

Anyone that can convice me that they would always correctly identify a noise as being gunshots or not should be in the business of selling oceanfront property in Kansas or in politics.
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Old August 14, 2009, 01:17 PM   #60
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My home is pretty close to the police training center, and I also work occasionally at a refinery thats just down the street from the CHP office and Between those two places I've gotten pretty decent at identifying that signature pop. You know your bored at work when your listening to LEO's shooting and trying to figure out who's shooting what!
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Old August 14, 2009, 06:50 PM   #61
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Old August 15, 2009, 05:28 AM   #62
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around the corner from my house, there's two bars in the same little strip mall thing. i was out back at one with my buddy, and there was a shooting over at the other one. he's been firing guns for a lot longer than me, but we both didn't recognize it at first. i'd say our ears did, but our brains didn't. it seems unbeleivable when it happens. it was like 1 am, but for whatever reason, i thought for the first few seconds it was a nailgun. it makes no sense, and when i processed it, it was obvious what it was. i know how stupid that sounds, but my mind considered and dismissed the possibility of gunshots on a subconcious level. it doesn't take too long to sort it out, but it's not immediate, at least not for me. it's just the last thing you'd expect.

as to how or why, i don't know.

Last edited by MajorWhiteBoy; August 15, 2009 at 05:31 AM. Reason: typo
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Old August 15, 2009, 09:58 AM   #63
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It's not that easy to always distinguish gun fire from other sounds. Lower power rounds often sound like cheap fire crackers at a bit of a distance. I can easily recognize the sound of higher power rifle rounds, and some higher power pistol rounds.

If there is a succession of 3-5 shots, its easier to notice that as firearms fire because of the relatively even intervals between shots. This past July 4th - I could hear that someone was shooting a gun in my neighborhood. Sounded like a revolver judging from the intervals.

Last edited by Skans; August 17, 2009 at 06:53 AM.
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Old August 15, 2009, 03:06 PM   #64
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yeah, when the shooting happened at the bar, the first few rounds were spaced kind of far apart and were uneven. then he unloaded. that's when it hit home what was happening.
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Old August 17, 2009, 12:06 PM   #65
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Ever since I was a kid i've been around firearms, grew up in the inner city, served several years in the military with firearms and a few years as a cop. This past July 4th a dummy fired off several rounds from his 380 pistol amidst firecrackers (I later found out who it was and put the person on notice). It's very difficult for me to distinguish 22, 32 and 380 rounds from the sound of firecrackers but because of the cadence I could tell it was gunshots instead. Nevertheless, it still took me about a minute to figure it out and i'm sure the context of the situation (July 4th & firecrackers) contributed to that.
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Old August 17, 2009, 12:12 PM   #66
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Recently a neighbor of mine had a fully-leafed maple tree lose a main branch after a prolonged period of rain. The cracking of the wood along the trunk sounded just like burst of automatic gun-fire from a M16 as the branch gave sounded like about half a magazine's worth of shots.

That sound brought back some memories.
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