Monday, June 13, 2016

Further Helpful Clarification

Overheard on cable news today:

"An AR-15 can fire 700 rounds a minute."
No, it can't.  Since it's is not an automatic weapon [aka "machine gun"], it only fires as fast as one may pull the trigger, or about 90 rounds [aka "bullets"] a minute.  That is a lot, to be sure, but since the standard magazine for this weapon only holds 20 rounds, it needs to be reloaded, thus cutting down on the firing rate.  Save for those with advanced military training, the average actual rate of fire for an AR-15 is about 18 rounds per minute.  The average police handgun fires faster than that, and given that law enforcement has about an 18% firing accuracy rate, that carries a lot more potential danger.

"We need to ban the AR-14."
Consider it done, as there is no such rifle as an AR-14.

"AR stands for "assault rifle."
No, it stands for Armalite, which is the company that developed the design and holds the patent.

"The AR-15 uses a military round."
Sort of, in that just about every caliber has been used by the military at one time or another.  The standard round for an AR-15 is .223, which is slightly larger than a .22.  That is a round so small that it can be used in some indoor handgun ranges where other rifle calibers may not.  It's so small that it is banned in several states for deer hunting because it is too under-powered to humanely kill a deer.

"The AR-15 is the deadliest rifle ever made."
No, that was the Sharps .52 caliber, issued to Union Army soldiers during the Civil War.  The AR-15 is the most popular rifle currently sold in the United States, almost ubiquitous, as it is affordable, sturdy, accurate, easy to operate and simple to clean.  It is not made to military specifications.  It may look like an "assault weapon" to those who go to way too many violent movies, but it's the equivalent of my grandfather's Remington and my great-grandfather's Henry, both of which are pictured below, and both of which were, in their day, affordable, sturdy, accurate, and easy to operate and clean.  In fact, both are still in the family and still in use, that's how well-made they are.

The Henry fires a round similar in size to that fired by the AR-15, by the way, and can maintain almost the same rate of fire as an AR-15.  At least in the familiar hands of great-grandpa's descendents.

An Update:
After spending the last 24 hours demonizing the most common rifle in the United States, the AR-15, the media discovered that the Orlando terrorist didn't use one.  Whoops.

This one, compounded by the president today: "He had a Glock with a lot of clips in it."
Yeah, that was sheer gibberish.

The only weapon I've ever handled that used an ammo clip was the venerable Garand M1 on which I was first trained.  It was issued around 1940 and was obsolete by the 1970's, as it was the standard rifle of the U.S. military in WWII. Because of its simple action it served as an introduction to firearms repair [recall that this writer was an infantry weapons repairman in another life].  A clip looks like this:

What I think the president may mean [and who can ever know, really?] is a magazine.  Politicians and the media use "clip" and "magazine" interchangeably, which is incorrect.  This is a magazine, and only one fits into a rifle or handgun at a time.

One is a large metal staple, the other a metal box with a spring on the bottom.

Here's a photo of the president shortly after he informed the public that, at Camp David, "we shoot guns all of the time".

I was pleased to see that he was using a training shotgun in this photo.  It's vented on the side, as can be seen by the puff of smoke, so that a novice may use it with greater comfort and accuracy. Although, my grandmother, a wickedly good shot, liked to use that type of shotgun by the time she reached her eighties.

My point in all of this, other than a persnickety insistence on accuracy from those who control information, is that we can't have a real conversation about gun violence if we don't know what we're talking about.