Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Potato Guns in the News

Watch out if you bought a potato gun last year like I did for Christmas presents--you might get arrested in Canada (Hat Tip: Say Uncle). Apparently, a 43 year old man was shooting a potato gun off a balcony and was arrested:

Officers swarmed the area and they, too, heard a sound like a gun being fired.

"We ... find out it’s this 43-year-old man and this potato gun. It’s a diversion of police resources [and] it’s a concern when we believe that we’re hearing gunshots.

"We haven’t found any damage or found anyone with injuries [but] the potential is obvious that someone could get hurt."

Getting hit by a potato would cause the same damage as a fast ball thrown by a major-league pitcher, said Sylven. Aiming a potato gun at someone can draw more serious charges than just firing it off a balcony, as this man is alleged to have done.

Okay, shooting those huge potato cannons off your balcony is just plain stupid. They could hurt someone. But, I still have a closet full of these little potato guns and was going to give out some more this year for gifts. Shush, don't tell anyone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you or your husband every been hit by a potato gun? 'Cause, y'know...that would explain a lot.

1:06 PM, November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure from the article if he was firing some little thing like you have, something kick-ass like this, or something in between. My guess is something like this or this.

2:24 PM, November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you've found the solution to the security guard problem. Guard sees danger, fires a coupla spuds in the air, and the cops respond instantly. Nobody gets hurt, the security guard gets arrested for disturbing the peace and locked up in the county jail where he'll be safe.

2:43 PM, November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A year or two ago, while shopping for presents for grandkids, we saw the RoboRaptors. Really cool! We don't remember for sure, but we think we went back and bought one for the older grandkids.

There's something new on the market, this year, and Dr. Helen, you must not buy them for the kids! The RoboReptile is always agressive. It can be calmed down, temporarily, by putting a hood over it's head; after 40 seconds, it will go to sleep. But if the hood slips off before it goes to sleep, it's madder than ever!

Actually, I'm not sure anyone ought to have these things. Can anyone say "lawsuit"?

2:56 PM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Pat Patterson said...

Would you like some sour cream and chives with your spud?

8:59 PM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Dave said...

Here's Mavis Staples shooting a potato gun.

11:50 PM, November 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We shot one at a Wire lawn chair to try to make New York Fries. Ended up mashed.

Don Wagner

11:59 PM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger <> said...

we shot many whole potatos across town. we have no further information.

12:49 AM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had my first shots of a potato gun with the "weapon" bestowed upon my uncle at his retirement party from the DNR. My kids and others also had a "blast". I toyed with the idea of deer hunting with the potato gun but quickly came to the realization that only the destruction of an internal system (heart, lungs) by an arrow or firearm ammo will do that trick. But it still might be neat if you could hit that buck in the head with a good sized baker or redskin, knock him crazy for a few seconds (as boxers do) and then scramble down from your treestand and just rassle him. LOLOL!


12:52 AM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some years ago, I went to a New Years party at the home of a confirmed bachelor - one of those guys who never quite grow up - who had recently constructed a potato cannon. I vividly recall everyone repairing to his front lawn at 1:30 AM (in formal attire) and taking turns firing the potato cannon. Powered by Aqua Net hairspray, it would launch a 2" plug about 2-300 yards. One of the women wanted to borrow it for a drive-by potatoing of her ex-husband.

It was, without a doubt, one of the best parties I have ever been to.

1:27 AM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...

Dear Helen:

As a Dr. of Psychology I can’t imagine that you don’t know where the dangers of obsessions like this can lead, perhaps you are in denial of something more deep seated than you want to admit.

Sure, it starts with something simple and innocuous like a plug out of a potato. But as this insidious fixation develops over time you will graduate to whole potatoes, then sweet potatoes, turnips, and other larger tubers. Once you have finished with tubers, you will most certainly move up to small melons, cantaloupes, etc. Soon, even these will fail to satisfy your growing addiction, and you will start firing large watermelons at your neighbors.

At the end, you will join the ranks of wretched souls like Jim Bristoe who entertains himself by firing giant pumpkins at speeds of over 900 mph into old Pontiacs.

For your own sake and the sake of your loved ones, destroy your arsenal of potato guns now; and please seek the counsel of one of your professional associates before it is too late.

Your deeply concerned friend,

2:22 AM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger Synova said...

Ah, pumpkin tossing.

A small town near here makes it an event, a standard small-town vegetable themed weekend where people compete to see who can build a trebuchet (big guess on the spelling) or other device to get the most distance chucking pumpkins.

Other people build those sorts of things to chuck the old Pontiacs, but that's really hard core and doesn't involve vegetables, so...

Oh, and I've at least one internet aquaintence into potato guns and I *think* it was in California but the neighbors called the cops, the cops came, said "what is that" and from how it's told, all involved had a great time. The police officers who responded thought it was fascinating.

3:05 AM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...


Must have been Northern California; at least 200 miles north of San Francisco.

Here in SoCal, possession of a device capable of launching a projectile of any size further than 10 feet results in immediate ostracization and banishment from the community.

3:31 AM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so actual damage or injuries aren't required for the arrest, merely potential.

And a potato would cause the same damage as a fast ball thrown by a major-league pitcher.

But have they considered that a fast ball thrown by a major-league pitcher would potentially cause the same damage as a potato?

I eagerly await the news that they're arresting major-league pitchers.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and your readers!

9:34 AM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you are interested in kids and violence, about a year ago here in Dallas, Texas we had a group of twenty or more teenagers kick another teenager to death. I remember something alled "swarming attacks" in NYC. I regret to say a potato gun would not be enough; only a firearm would do.

10:21 AM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

When they ban potato guns only the Irish will be armed

10:41 AM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger Jay Manifold said...

In my junior high days, we called 'em Polish Bazookas -- made 'em out of coke cans (which had much thicker walls in the early '70s) stacked together with the tops and bottoms cut out. About 3 feet long with the bottom of the bottom can left in and a little hole in the side at the bottom for fuel, usually lighter fluid (ie butane). Buddy of mine added a "silencer" to his in the form of a bunch of holes punched around the sides near the top. Probably better than nothing but still not very effective, because he got hold of his dad's oxyacetylene torch and bled in a mixture of acetylene and pure oxygen. Launch was easily one of the 2-3 loudest noises I've ever heard, and that with my fingers jammed into my ears while lying face down at a safe distance. Shot a tennis ball straight up completely out of sight -- I remember it shrinking to a tiny dot and disappearing. We didn't even try to find where it came down. Oh, and this was in an urban area.

10:48 AM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If potato cannons are a little too much, may I recommend a water balloon launcher? We launched some over the house on the target area around the grill in the backyard. Shock and awe!

11:08 AM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...


Jim Bristoe's cannon would certainly take care of these thug swarms. Especially a new version he is said to be working on which works the other way round -- launching Pontiacs instead of pumpkins.

11:19 AM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Canadian police thought they heard a gun being fired, something was wrong with the spud gun. A good launch will sound more like a mortar (how to explain that?) a champagne cork, only longer-lasting. Fa-whoomp.
No bang.

11:51 AM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger Gordon R. Durand said...

Here's Marielle holding the pneumatic Spud Gun Mark IV with the 48" barrel. With 75 lbs. pressure (supplied by a bicycle pump) and the 72" barrel it has a range of over 200 yards.

12:14 PM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Racquet balls work well in "potato" guns. Go out in a field, shoot the ball a 100 yards straight up and let the kids try to catch it.

12:21 PM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger tomcal said...

Your comment is filling my eyes with tears of pride. This is just one more example of the bounty for which we are giving thanks today.

1:17 PM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" a trebuchet (big guess on the spelling) or other device to get the most distance chucking pumpkins."

Pumpkins? Bah! If you're going to go to all the trouble to construct a trebuchet, why waste it on pumpkins?

Pianos are more fun!

3:13 PM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pianos!? Why stop there?

How about ... a large wooden rabbit?

Run awaaaayy!


4:32 PM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger Kev said...

I forwarded this story to one of my other favorite sites, Dave Barry's Blog. He's totally into anything that launches projectiles, so maybe he'll link you.

10:59 PM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Irony's sake I thought I'd offer that last year, about this time, while visiting my daughter who works in "The Haight" in SF, I purchased a few PotatoE guns near where she worked - for gifts.

They were taken away from me at SFO before flight back to San Clemente, by way of John Wayne Airport - as too dangerous.

Oh well.

11:42 PM, November 23, 2006  
Blogger mean aunt said...

I dunno Helen, hose little potato guns can leave a nasty starch mark ;)

12:12 PM, November 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Medical Books:

6:32 AM, November 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this? A marshmallow shooter!

7:58 AM, November 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regard to distinquishing the sound of a spud-gun from a "regular" gun: On July 4 I fired one over the heads of a crowd in the yard. With no discernable interval the potato became juice on the concrete wall across the street. The mothers shrieked, babies cried, teenyboys went glassy-eyed and fathers were envious. Only the teenygirls were not impressed. Oh, and the yard cleared in an instant! There is something of the Ka-whoomp in the report, but there is just as much BANG!!!! if not more. These things are not toys. And they are too.

12:14 PM, November 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is something about a man shooting a vegitable at over 300 mph and then looking at what you just did and want to do it again. My first time shooting a spudgun made me launch my internet business,, back in 1997. Since then I have made thousands of happy owners of spudguns and have never had 1 customer complain that it didn't fulfill his primeivel urge to make noise and watch something go flying.
Give it a try sometime.
Larry Barnes

6:28 PM, December 14, 2006  
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