It’s called ballistic trauma. That’s the medical terms for getting shot. With a gun. Any gun. But these days, I’m thinking, we need to come up with some new term, something that describes the unimaginable horror that happened in Newtown. And Aurora. And Blacksburg, And about 15 other places in the past few years.
Do you know what happens when a bullet enters the the human body?
I didn’t either until I looked it up. Nor did I realize that there’s actually a field of study called “wound ballistics,” devoted to measuring and tracking the gruesome results that come from the kinetic energy of a bullet fired into a living thing.
There are two reasons for such study: to identify the best way to kill someone, and to help surgeons better understand the damage a bullet causes so they can try and repair it. You can actually read a chapter about this, courtesy of the Department of Defense.
Here’s what the chapter says: “With the perfection of guns that could shoot high-velocity missiles came the observation that the resulting wounds appeared as though they had been caused by an actual explosion within the body. External signs of injury were often slight, the entrance and exit holes small, but an unbelievable amount of damage occurred within.. . . Not only is the tissue pulped within a large region about the bullet path but intact nerves lose their ability to conduct impulses and bones are found to be broken that have not suffered a direct hit.”
I write this not to sicken you. But so that everyone who reads this–including those who believe that we all should have easy access to any gun we want, including those that shoot “high-velocity” missiles like the one used in Newtown–can, hopefully, get an indelible picture in their mind of what those guns do. And what they did. To six women and 20 babies.