Created By: JatogTheGreen on April 20, 2012

Gunshot Shut-Up

Firing a gun into the air to silence an angry mob.

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Let's say that you're The Sheriff of a town in a Western. The town has assembled together, either for a town meeting or for a trial, but whatever the case, the crowd is quickly becoming argumentative. Even a caucus doesn't serve to do anything but to set townsfolk against townsfolk. You try to keep the peace, but the arguments drown out your pleas for reason. So what do you do? Simple: Draw your six-shooter and fire into the air. BOOM! Suddenly, the crowd goes silent, and all attention falls upon you. You now proceed to speak your peace, usually to Shame the Mob.

This is a fairly common attention-getting tactic for police and other gun-toting types - perhaps not in real life except with Riot Cops, though I know, for example, that I've seen it used in True Crime: Streets of L.A. - but despite many Wiki Walks over the last two years, I don't recall ever finding it.

Do We Have This One? Please let me know if so, and under what description I can find it. Thanks, everybody!
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • April 21, 2012
    The "gunshot into the air" is also sometimes done to stop people who are already fighting.
  • April 21, 2012
    Was attempted by Kendra Shaw to quiet a rowdy crowd on the Scylla in the TV Movie Razor. This being Battlestar Galactica, of course, it backfired and the riot became violent.

    Something very similar had happened on the Gideon in the Rag-Tag Fugitive Fleet, before Pegasus showed up.
  • April 21, 2012
    • In the Ciaphas Cain novel "Caves Of Ice", there's a running gag where someone has to keep doing this whenever a meeting's being held. When Cain gets back, the presence of bolter holes in the ceiling gives him a fright.
  • April 21, 2012
  • April 21, 2012
    In the movie Black Hawk Down, Mike Durant is saved from a Somali mob by Aidid's Dragon when he fires his AK into the air to stop them from (further) savaging him, and then announces that Aidid has claimed Durant as his prisoner, who, as such, is not to come to further harm. The crowd backs off.
  • April 21, 2012
    In Oklahoma, when a fight breaks out during "The Farmer and the Cowman," Aunt Eller seizes a gun and fires it to make them stop.
  • April 22, 2012
    In Wallace And Gromit, the Big Bad does this to get the people at the festival to shut up when they panic on learning that the were-rabbit is still alive.
  • April 22, 2012
    • Done twice in Veronica Mars--the first with an airhorn to silence a mob of angry dog snatchers speaking in rapid fire Spanish, the second during the season two finale when Logan and Cassidy are wrestling for control of Veronica's taser.
  • April 22, 2012
    • In Tom And Huck, Judge Thatcher fires a shotgun in the air in order to get the townspeople to be quiet when they tried to hang Muff Potter.
  • April 22, 2012
    "It worked in Blazing Saddles!" Really, it was used by Taggart to stop Lyle and the other white railroad workers when they got carried away, singing "Camptown Ladies".
  • April 22, 2012
    Saw it in 3:10 to Yuma. After Agent Mc Elroy insults Ben Wade's parentage, Ben throws him off his horse, takes his shotgun, and holds the rest of the group hostage as he throws Mc Elroy into a nearby ravine. That is, until William Evans, Dan's son, comes up behind Wade from Behind The Black, gun raised and cocked. When Ben taunts him, saying that he doesn't expect William will shoot a man he admires in the back of the head, William fires across Ben's shoulder. Ben immediately asks Dan to call William off.

    Also saw it in this memorable exchange from Wild Wild West (1999), as Jim begins to suspect that Gordon - as Grant - is an impostor during their meeting in the oval office. When Gordon insists that he's Grant, Jim tells him, "Wrong answer." Jim fires a round into the ceiling, knocking some rubble down onto Gordon's shoulder. Jim asks again who Gordon is, and when Gordon yet again attempts to insist that he's the President, Jim cocks his revolver, and Gordon immediately reveals himself.
  • April 22, 2012
    Star Trek The Next Generation: Guinan uses an antique phaser on display to stop a Bar Brawl in 10-Forward.
    That was setting one. Who'd like to see two?
  • April 23, 2012
    in Real Life, sadly in someplaces shooting in the gun in the air is a festive activity. and it happens so often that from time to time people get hit by the bullets on there way down, with potentially lethal consequences. i know that it isn't quite this trope but i thought it was similar enough to worth mentioning.

    i think i have also seen this trope used in fiction by villains to intimidate people, perhaps the villain(s) do this so they won't immediately get needless blood their hands (and thus pointlessly increase how many resources are used to capture them and how long they will be detained if caught) or to make it appear to the innocent by standards so the villain isn't so violent that the innocent bystanders won't get hurt if they cooperate.

    this villain version is used at least twice in The Dark Knight once in the robbery where a robber scene, and the other when The Joker trys to crash a party
  • April 24, 2012
    Community: A Few Paintballs More. Annie does this to get the group's attention during the year-ending paintball battle.
  • April 28, 2012
    ^^That's confusing this with Firing In The Air A Lot.
  • April 29, 2012
    Compare Dramatic Gun Cock, which is a step before this.
  • May 6, 2012