Some Americans are taking aim at the Chinese spy balloon with their own rifles ignoring advice that such an approach is dangerous and ineffective.
US President Joe Biden and national security team officials have discussed options including shooting the balloon down, according to a senior administration official.
Earlier, the military had advised against shooting down the balloon due to the risk of falling debris, but the situation could change as the balloon moves towards the East Coast.
Americans fantasize about shooting down the Chinese spy balloon
But some Americans are fantasizing about taking their shot at bringing it down.
The balloon is located at an altitude of about 66,000 feet (12.5 miles), high above the airspace where commercial airliners typically fly. It is way above the altitude where a bullet could reach it.
Despite the clear danger posed by firing a gun at a target so far away, prominent conservative figures, second amendment advocates, and even gun manufacturers are encouraging their followers to take matters into their own hands.
Former First Son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted to his followers that if the government won’t take down the balloon “perhaps we just let the good people of Montana do their thing… I imagine they have the capability and the resolve to do it all themselves.”
If Joe Biden and his administration are too weak to do the obvious and shoot down an enemy surveillance balloon perhaps we just let the good people of Montana do their thing… I imagine they have the capability and the resolve to do it all themselves.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 3, 2023
House Representative Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) told his Twitter followers to “take the shot.” Zinke wrote, “in Montana we do not bow. We shoot it down.”
Ohio Senator J.D. Vance tweeted an image of himself staring at the sky while posing with a rifle.
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) February 3, 2023
Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake tweeted an image of herself holding a rifle with the caption, “I’m told there’s a balloon that needs to be taken care of?” The balloon is nowhere near Arizona.
I’m told there’s a balloon that needs to be taken care of? pic.twitter.com/k33onkFL3a
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) February 3, 2023
Rolling Stone explains what would happen if you tried to shoot the balloon yourself:
“You would shoot your gun into the air, the bullet would travel (up to about a mile), and then gravity would pull it back down. The speed the descending bullet travels at could still be deadly if you hit someone, or yourself, if you’re shooting at a high angle. Falling bullets can also land far off from their planned descent, putting individuals in the area at risk.”
Second Chinese spy balloon spotted in Latin America
A second Chinese spy balloon was reportedly flying over Latin America, according to the Pentagon.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America,” Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said, a day after the first craft was spotted over US skies. “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon.”
The Pentagon did not specify the balloon’s exact location, but a US official told CNN it did not appear to be currently heading towards the US.
The balloon in the skies over the continental United States has sparked national security concerns, adding to already tense diplomatic relations.
A Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, U.S. officials said, one a defense expert estimates is equivalent to the size of three bus lengths https://t.co/BhcAHLUddz 1/5 pic.twitter.com/oMrJXNuwgz
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 3, 2023
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has responded by postponing his highly anticipated trip to China, saying Friday that the high-altitude balloon entering US airspace had “created the conditions that undermine the purpose of the trip.”
Blinken dubbed it an “irresponsible act.” China, meanwhile, denies the balloon is involved in any kind of espionage, claiming it is a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes” that has been blown off course.