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peachiemkey
05-21-2009, 05:09 AM
Hey all,

I'm currently outlining my would-be second novel. During the climax, my MC puts her hand up, more as a reflex, to block a gunshot aimed at a friend.

The gun would be a basic handgun (I'm not really up on the terms), shot from maybe 15 feet away.

Assuming it hit the center of her palm, would the bullet go straight through or get lodged in her hand? If it did go straight through, how much farther would it travel?

I'm also wondering about the amount of blood loss/what the wound would look like, level of pain (could it be ignored for a bit, or no way?), treatment of the wound (both immediate First Aid and what they'd do at the hospital), recovery time, and prospects for that poor hand.

Thanks for your help.

RJK
05-21-2009, 08:15 PM
A small caliber, .22 or .25 would be slowed down but would still go through and continue on until it hit something else, at least several hundred yards further.
A heavier caliber wouldn't even be slowed down.
There is a ganglia of nerves in the center of the palm. these nerves control the movements of the fingers. The nerves would be destroyed by the bullet. There would be some blood, but not life threatening. It would be very painful, but not debilitating.

GeorgeK
05-21-2009, 08:34 PM
There's no such thing as a "basic handgun". At the risk of oversimplifying it, firearms in a tiny nutshell are divided into low velocity vs high velocity ammunition that they will accept and the caliber of the ammunition that the firearm will accept. You can't put a 22round into a 45 caliber pistol etc. (Incidentally 22 caliber means the round's diameter is 0.22 inches.) The higher the velocity and the higher the caliber the more energy is transferred to the target and therefore the more damage is inflicted. A small caliber low velocity round like RJK said would likely still go through, but might be deflected off it's original trajectory. Anything bigger is likely to leave two holes, one in the hand and the other in whatever else it hits. A high velocity round might take the hand clean off. (Actually, not clean, but very jaggedly) You might say what you want the bullet to do, and we all can help suggest what handgun you might want it to be.

As far as the hand goes:
Human reflexes are not fast enough to try and deflect a bullet (at least not in regards to any modern ammunition) She'd have to be reaching prior to the shot.

There are a lot of anatomical compartments in the hand. Infection risk is high. She's not going to be able to use that hand for quite some time and it might even eliminate the use of a few fingers, probably the 3rd and 4th if you are toalking dead center of the palm. The hand has collateral circulation, so gangrene is not a likely early problem. However, the nerves are not going to be forgiving.

Chumplet
05-21-2009, 08:48 PM
I had the same scenario in my hockey novel. The bullet passed through her hand and grazed her shoulder. I didn't use much research and didn't specify the calibre of the gun, but made sure she had physical therapy on the hand and it took a while to gain full use.

In my book, the guy was aiming at her so she had a chance to bring her hand up.

WriteKnight
05-21-2009, 08:55 PM
"Defensive" wounds to the hand in gunshot victims do happen. It's natural to raise your hand in a defensive posture when threatened by a gun, knife or fists. The hand will come up BEFORE the shot is fired of course.

As others have said, it would help to know what the gun is - or conversely - what it is you need to happen so that a particular type of gun can be suggested. But seriously, it's going to leave a hole, damage bones, tendons and nerves and bleed a lot.

dgiharris
05-21-2009, 09:18 PM
As for pain.

Believe it or not, usually, serious injuries result in no pain initially. You go into a form of 'shock'.

Now, it doesn't have to be the babbling I -don't-know-where-I-am kinda shock. You can be fully conscious and aware but just not feeling any pain.

Especially in life threatening situations, the body will shut-off the pain response, flood you with endorphins/adrenaline to allow you to fight or flight.

The pain will come later, usually when the crisis passes.

There are a range of possible outcomes.

1) She could faint from the shot
2) She could go into full feldge delirium shock
3) She could go into mild shock
4) She could be fully aware and feel no pain (another form of mild shock)
5) She could feel intense pain and be crippled by it

all are possible outcomes.

just thought i'd throw that in

good luck

Mel...

peachiemkey
05-22-2009, 07:43 AM
Thanks so much for the info, everyone. dgi - I'm tempted to go with 4, it sounds like it would be really fun to write!

Here's what I want the shot to do: hit/leave a hole in her hand without actually blowing the hand off. Result in a wound that could be left alone for 20-30 minutes without causing too much blood loss. Result in injuries feasibly fixable by extensive physical therapy (i.e., my MC could eventually regain that hand's guitar-playing ability).

So, something sort of weak, but obviously still lethal if shot in the right place. Again, I know little about guns, so if these features are incompatible, feel free to suggest the next best thing.

I actually want there to be a news story circulating earlier in the book about a stolen gun, so if anyone can volunteer what the specifications would be - or how it would be identified in a news report - that would be great.

peachiemkey
05-26-2009, 12:25 AM
Anyone for my above inquiry? Sorry to be annoying, lol.

Quinn
05-26-2009, 02:53 AM
For a stolen gun to be news worthy, it would have to be a very special weapon (Antique and valuable or have some historic significance--a museum piece perhaps).

Many target pistols are 22 caliber. Perhaps that is an angle for you? The gun of an expert attending a competition is stolen before the event? That could reasonably make the news. If a 22 caliber shot hits in the first interspace between the thumb and index finger, it would do the least tendon damage and spare guitar playing ability.

I hope this helps!

Chase
05-26-2009, 03:16 AM
As for pain.

Believe it or not, usually, serious injuries result in no pain initially. You go into a form of 'shock'.
Mel...

Mel is correct about no initial pain from a gunshot. From my own wounds in extremities and talking to other walking wounded, sensations vary from numbness to internal tingling. We can see the hole, the blood, but we're spared pain for a while, sometimes up to a half hour, most of the time plenty long enough for drugs to take the edge off when pain comes.


Here's what I want the shot to do: hit/leave a hole in her hand without actually blowing the hand off. Result in a wound that could be left alone for 20-30 minutes without causing too much blood loss. Result in injuries feasibly fixable by extensive physical therapy (i.e., my MC could eventually regain that hand's guitar-playing ability).

So, something sort of weak, but obviously still lethal if shot in the right place. Again, I know little about guns, so if these features are incompatible, feel free to suggest the next best thing.

Despite movie and TV FX, no handgun will blow off a hand. A high-power rifle might take off much of a finger, but certainly nothing like that from any handgun. They're relatively low velocity hole drillers, even with the viciousness of hyped hollowpoints.

So your shooter could use any handgun. The 9mm (Luger or parabellum) isn't the weakest cartridge on the market, but it's certainly not the most powerful. A full metal jacketed 9mm bullet will deliver the wound you want.

GeorgeK
05-26-2009, 08:40 PM
no handgun will blow off a hand.

Some will. It depends upon the energy transferred over what kind of area and the relative strength of the soft tissues hit and what particular soft tissues are hit. The bones and tendons of women are in general weaker than men, and children even moreso. If the bullet traverses through the plane of the hand, even a moderate caliber low velocity round can rip it to shreds. If it manages to take out both the radial and ulnar arterial branches, then all four fingers will be lost. In defensive posturing, this would be a believeable scenario. If for the purposes of semantics you only want the fingers to be on the floor and not just dangling dead and unsalvageable, then consider that trajectory inflicted by a 45 magnum. It is a handgun and it could sever a hand.

For the OP, I'd be able to believe it with a 22 if the medical references were vague, particularly if the character had to alter how she played. "Yeah I do more strumming instead of picking, and cold days seem to bother me more," or something like that. It is unlikely that there would be absolutely no long term sequelae if a bullet goes completely through the palm. There are just too many structures in too small of an area for nothing to be damaged.

Chase
05-26-2009, 11:14 PM
Some will.

I stand by my statement from ten years military experience as a tactical firearms instructor, 13 years service as a Montana EMT and hospital worker, and 36 years in state hunter education. I've never seen or heard a valid case where a human hand was severed by a handgun bullet, even one as powerful as a .454 Casuls.

Happens regularly in TV and movies, but if you've seen it anywhere else, I would appreciate documentation to update my education. Otherwise, it's just more urban legend.

STKlingaman
05-26-2009, 11:55 PM
Having had a few instances of extreme
pain, (once in the hand) I can say there
is some lag time (20-30 min.) before pain
from the wound starts to kick in.
I think the shock to the system, or the adrenal
glands (stress), or endorphins, or some other
bodily function may delay the pain
receptors or something.
(as you can see I must be an expert!)

And the wound would probably be
slightly larger than the size of the bullet.
Not much blood, fingers would probably
curl, and when it started to hurt,
it would hurt like $#&%!

from a .38 or 9mm (most common calibers)
the bullet would probably travel
another 40-50 yards before it started to
tumble to the ground. Someone standing behind;
5-20 ft - could easily be killed, little difference because of the hand
20-40 ft - could kill, slower bullet = more blunt force trauma

then again, I may have no idea

GeorgeK
05-27-2009, 09:23 PM
I stand by my statement from ten years military experience ... but if you've seen it anywhere else, I would appreciate documentation to update my education. Otherwise, it's just more urban legend.

Documentation in such a forum as this would require breach of confidentiality laws, so no. As a surgeon I can assure you that it can happen, rare yes, unlikely even, but possible. I've seen bullets do some pretty amazing things.

Chase
05-27-2009, 09:54 PM
Documentation in such a forum as this would require breach of confidentiality laws, so no. As a surgeon I can assure you that it can happen, rare yes, unlikely even, but possible. I've seen bullets do some pretty amazing things.

Okay, every single case is confidential. Good excuse, and I understand the liability involved. I've seen where surgeons hacked off body parts after gunshot injuries. But they do the same thing after snakebite, punjab stakes, vehicle accidents, et cetera, et cetera.

Before I went under for my wounds, I wrote with a Sharpie, "Wrong leg. Do not remove" at several places on my good leg. Rare but possible, some patients who didn't woke up disappointed.

But back to the question, blown off hands must be as rare as the 45 magnum mentioned and other hen's teeth, so what's the point?

WriteKnight
05-28-2009, 07:11 AM
I went in for surgery on my knee, and before the doctor put me under, HE wrote on the wrong knee - "WRONG KNEE" - and confirmed it with me.

Makes perfectly good sense to me. Not like they want to wake you up to double check.

GeorgeK
05-30-2009, 12:07 AM
so what's the point?
You are the one who tried to make such a point of it. I'm tired so I'm putting you on ignore now.

Chase
06-02-2009, 02:37 AM
You are the one who tried to make such a point of it. I'm tired so I'm putting you on ignore now.

How awful of me to challenge first. No, wait! It was the other way around! Yes, ignore is a wonderful tool. Too bad it doesn't really work to refute facts.