As I watched a repeat episode of Mythbusters the other night, I was reminded of one of my pet peeves in Science Fiction and Fantasy- the ineffectiveness of firearms. The Mythbusters were testing why so many cultures had made arrowheads, instead of just sharpening the end of their arrows. (They make bigger holes).
This reminded me of a terrible dinosaurs-in-modern times movie I had watched on Netflix over the weekend (Age of Dinosaurs, 2013, starring Ronny Cox and Treat Williams). I say terrible because it was. But in particular it annoyed me that the dinosaurs were bulletproof- yet Treat Williams’ character was able to kill one with a fire axe.
Now, I don’t believe that firearms are insta-killers, as many films in the past have shown. But they are considerably more dangerous than many a writer would have you believe. I blame that on poor writing- the authors of screenplays and novels not being able to come up with other ways to keep the story going, so they turn firearms into sissy shooters.
Let’s just consider this for a moment. Say a Utahraptor was on the loose in your town and you had a trusty sidearm- maybe a 9mm or .40 semiauto. Would you be dino-chow, or would you be mounting one dead lizard over the fireplace later? (And I chose Utahraptor as they are more man-sized than velociraptors which were exaggerated quite a bit in the Jurassic Park franchise).
To determine how effective our firearms would be, lets first consider real world, modern-era animals. How about an elephant? We’re told they have immensely thick skin and bones. They massively outweigh people. Surely a handgun couldn’t kill an elephant?
Actually, it can. There have been cases where police have had to shoot rampaging circus elephants with their handguns. True, the animals either died from multiple wounds, or from a lucky/well placed shot behind the ear, into their brains, but the outcome is the same. Dumbo died. Because he was not, despite immensely-thick skin, bulletproof.
Surely if a handgun is capable, albeit under specific circumstances, of killing an elephant, it could kill our ‘raptor?
Not convinced? Let’s look for something more Raptor-sized? Like an alligator. Poachers around the world have been shooting and killing crocodilians for years. And not with cannons or howitzers or reconditioned tanks. They use firearms.
In fact, as recently as June 8, 2013, there was a story of an alligator over ten feet long being shot and killed by police. Yes, they might have used their shotguns- the article doesn’t really say. But the point is, not even an alligator is bulletproof. And they have considerably thicker skin than our rampaging raptor.
It’s also fairly common for bears to be hunted with handguns- not the kind that police use, but considerably larger, more Dirty Harry style magnums. Such kind of hunting requires precise aim- you have to hit the bear in the right spot. Winging them in the leg is probably just going to piss them off. And I’ll admit that even dogs can survive multiple gun shots.
But the point is, that dinosaurs simply weren’t bulletproof. They were large, muscled, lizards that, if thrust into our modern era, could be killed the same as any other modern animal.
You don’t need a massive cannon to kill a dinosaur or any other movie monster. In fact, Tremors 2: Aftershocks does a wonderful job of showing the fallacy of that kind of thinking when Burt Gummer fires a .50 caliber BMG round at a Shrieker- destroying the little monster, punching a hole through a concrete wall, and through the engine block of the one truck they could have escaped in. Yes, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration as well, but the point is there. Bigger isn’t better, or necessary.
The point to consider with any animal is that a bullet is going to make a hole in them. It’s going to disrupt tissue and hopefully damage or destroy some internal organs. The animal might not drop dead right then and there, but they are going to start bleeding, and, more than likely, they’re going to retreat.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where a cloned dinosaur is on rampage, don’t throw away your firearms. I know most movies will call for you to run up, within biting distance, and stab your opponent (knives seeming somehow more deadly in a many a B Movie). Or maybe jump in your car and ram the dino either- deer survive vehicle hits on a daily basis.
Don’t do any of that. Keep your gun. Just stay calm, line up your sights and squeeze, don’t jerk, the trigger.