Simon Says » communiqué 057/July 2021

Simon Says: communiqué 057/July 2021

Hello everyone

I’m one of those authors who doesn’t really care about guns (and weapons more generally).

However, I write about crime and criminals do tend to use weapons, so I need to refer firearms. But you’ll likely never find a specific gun mentioned or a gauge of ammunition noted in any of my books—the most you can expect is that a character uses a rifle or a revolver or a pistol. You get the idea…

However, when I mention weapons, I need to get the details right. The difficulty with some of these details is that readers can think I’m wrong, even when I’m right. And very often, readers think something is wrong because of what they’ve seen in a movie.

So what is it that movies get wrong?

Falling Down

People don’t fall over when they are shot. Or rather, people who are shot are not knocked backwards when the bullet hits them.

Under Newton’s third law of motion (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction), if the force of the bullet fired into a person was such that it knocked them back, then the shooter would also be knocked over when they fired the gun.

Of course, the person who is shot may fall. If the bullet kills them, they will fall. If they are injured (for instance, they are shot in the leg), then they may fall. However, the falling is a secondary action not related to the shot, and they will fall down, not back (again, physics—gravity will pull them down).

At this point, I should also give movies an excuse. By their nature, movies are visual, they therefore need to show a bullet hitting its target. Often, the best way to show a character being hit by a bullet is to have them be knocked backwards. So I get it…I get why movies have people getting shot in this way. But there’s no reason for this in books.

Shooting Locks

I’m sure you’ve seen people shoot locks in movies. Yeah…it doesn’t work like that.

With a regular sized lock and a hand gun, the bullets will not break the lock—they may do some damage to the metal of the lock, but they won’t break it open. Worse, the bullet will likely ricochet and could injure someone.

Shooting a padlock may be feasible if the lock is tiny and is made of flimsy metal…but not for a regular padlock and definitely not for any lock intended to offer any form of security.

When it comes to shooting a lock in a door, then it may be better to shoot the wood several times and separate the lock from the door.


Again, I’m sure you’ve seen assassins screw a silencer to the end of their pistol.

In reality, there’s no such thing as a silencer. There is, however, a suppressor which suppresses—in other words, reduces—the noise. There will still be a lot of noise from the shot, but not as much as there would be if there was no suppressor.


One thing that is not mentioned frequently enough is that books can stop bullets.

Technically, it’s not books, but paper. You need a sufficient depth of paper (one or two sheets will not offer any protection). If you get enough depth of paper, then you can stop very large bullets.

To Close

If you are thinking about stopping bullets, I can recommend a few books. However, to be cautious, I would look into getting a bulletproof jacket too.

Until August.

All the best