Just like chopperspotting, some Oaklanders play a game: Gunshots or Fireworks? Alternate versions are Gunshots or Backfire? Or Gunshots, Fireworks or Backfire?

How can you tell what you just heard? How do YOU tell what you just heard? What do you do? Do you even notice?

fireworks debris, 2013
CC SA-BY Our Oakland

  • If I hear something sounding like a gunshot, I wait awhile and if I hear sirens, I decide it's a gunshot. If it's not, I decide it must have been something else. I know this is ludicrous, though, because not all gunshots are responded to in Oakland.
  • If I hear six blasts or ten blasts in rapid succession it is definitely gunshots because somebody is emptying the (revolver/semi-auto) all in one blaze of glory. 
  • Fireworks are often associated with sportsball, so if you see bright lights in the sky in the direction of the Coliseum area or check twitter or the news and find out that there's sportsball happening in Oakland, that might help tip things towards the "fireworks" side.
  • If it's the Fourth of July, high chance that it's fireworks. The city sounds like a war zone on Fourth of July because of all the fireworks.