Jumping the Gun

Washington Times assistant national editor Robert Stacy McCain takes ABC News’ Brian Ross and Dana Hughes to the woodshed for using the tragic murder of 32 Virginia Tech students to further their anti-gun agenda:

High capacity ammo clips became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons. Web sites now advertise overnight UPS delivery of the clips, which carry up to 40 rounds for both semi-automatic rifles, including 9mm pistols, and handguns. “High capacity magazines read extreme firepower and gusto. Stock Up!” is the headline of one of many gun shop Web sites.

Virginia law enforcement officials have not identified the weapon used in the shootings today at Virginia Tech, but gun experts say the number of shots fired indicate, at the very least, that the gunman had large quantities of ammunition.

“When you have a weapon that can shoot off 20, 30 rounds very quickly, you’re going to have a lot more injuries,” said Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. It’s not one or two shots at a time when you’re putting 20 bullets, spraying them into a classroom or into a dorm room,” Hamm said.

As McCain notes, that post went up at The Blotter well before any details of the crime were made public, let alone any information about the weapon used. Indeed, more than two hours later, that information is still not public. Nor is it even clear that bullets were being “sprayed.”

Ammo Clip Ad - The Blotter The ad from Sportsman’s Guide used to illustrate their point isn’t exactly damning, either. They’re selling “high capacity magazines,” most of which appear to hold 10-20 rounds. There is one gigantic banana clip, which may indeed hold 40 rounds, but it’s not exactly chain-fed ammo for a machine gun. (Oddly, I can’t find the graphic in question at Sportsman’s Guide, which has a completely different look.)

Most weapons on the market are semi-automatic without being “assault rifles.” Indeed, unless a would-be mass murderer plans to fix bayonets after running out of ammunition, there’s not much advantage to an “assault rifle” over any other semi-automatic weapon. And changing out clips does is not particularly difficult: one depresses a button, the old clip drops, and a new clip is inserted.

UPDATE: Police report that the gunman used “at least two 9mm semi-automatic pistols,” not a rifle, assault or otherwise. ABC News persists, however, in sticking to their story: “It is unknown at this time if the guns had standard or extended clips, which can fire as many as 30 shots before the gun has to be reloaded.”

As opposed to six or nine or fifteen shots, in which case the 5 second change of magazine will have to be executed four, three, or one time(s) to achieve the same effect.

UPDATE: Hot Air‘s Ian Schwartz reports that “MSNBC is already promoing a special on gun control set to air on the channel’s resident ‘conservative’ show, ‘Scarborough Country.'” Naturally, he’s got video of said promo.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Media, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jennings is human or a Martian, which, depending on the Martian, can mind-meld as far as 50 feet away from a game show host. [IMG Martian Ken] That’s entertainment. But it surely isn’t journalism. UPDATE: Apparently the original ABC News story was even more speculative than it is now. Unbelievable. Posted by Captain Midnight | 4/17/2007 12:57:36 PM Last date modified: 4/17/2007 1:43:41 PM Comment |

  2. The Populist says:

    , The Jawa Report, Blog P.I., Firedoglake, SayUncle, Riehl World View, Ace of Spades HQ, CANNONFIRE, KnoxViews, Gates of Vienna, Done With Mirrors, Gateway Pundit, protein wisdom, Macsmind, Dr. Helen, Outside The Beltway, On Deadline, The Caucus, NewsBusters.org, Confederate Yankee, DownWithTyranny!, Blue Crab Boulevard, Jules Crittenden, The Democratic Daily, CANNONFIRE, The Moderate Voice, Sister Toldjah, David Corn

  3. s events on the school’s Web site. Also in the news, in the wake of the shootings, ABC’s The Blotter reports that a “Lapse of Federal Law Allows Sale of Large Ammo Clips.” Wonderful. Needless to say, right wing gun advocates are up in arms over the report.

  4. well before any details of the crime were made public, let alone any information about the weapon used. Indeed, more than two hours later, that information is still not public. Nor is it even clear that bullets were being “sprayed.” [IMG Ammo Clip Ad – The Blotter] The ad from Sportsman’s Guide used to illustrate their point isn’t exactly damning, either. They’re selling “high capacity magazines,” most of which appear to hold 10-20 rounds. There is one gigantic banana clip, which may indeed hold 40

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    So far I’ve seen anti- (and pro-) Second Amendment arguments and anti-Iraq war arguments made in reaction to the Virginia Tech mass murder. Apparently, for some it’s never to early to start counting political coup.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Not surprising, I guess. Everything and everything is politics nowadays.

  7. jeff b says:

    Certainly we are in for days and perhaps years of non sequitur gun control proposals. People will propose banning just about everything, although probably not 9mm semi-auto pistols. One side will say a 9mm is no use for hunting. The other side will say it’s all about self defense. Nobody will mention that the real purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to preserve the right of the people to murder the government.

  8. Patrick McGuire says:

    Why make guns illegal? Why not pass a law making it illegal to shoot someone?

  9. Wayne says:

    From the audio clip from a link on the Drudge report and Fox News, it sound like the shooter wasn’t spraying and praying but taking deliberate shots. My experience is that most people when they go full auto of start spraying on semi, they tend to hit less targets and usually get glancing shots instead of fatal shots. It seems like the larger the clip the more likely someone will use the spray techniques. Perhaps we should pass a law requiring full-autos and large clips.

    Of course, it doesn’t matter to anyone properly trained. 5 seconds to change clips is pretty long for a properly train person as well in this type of situation. I suspect the reason this shooter was able to kill so many, was because he took his time instead of unloading the gun as fast as he could.

  10. Tlaloc says:

    Apparently, for some it’s never to early to start counting political coup.

    On the other hand maybe if this particular coup had been counted decades ago we wouldn’t be having this debate.

    Isn’t it funny how every time a school shooting comes up the 2nd amendment issue rises again? Almost as if we should have learned something the last time.

    Or the time before that.

    Or the time before that.

    Or…

  11. carpeicthus says:

    I hate it when people on either side bring up the 2nd Amendment after a shooting like this. In addition to being crass, it’s the worst way to examine the arguments, since it focuses on the particulars of one case.

  12. Deadly Shooting Rampage At Virginia Tech…

    Shootings at a dorm and classroom on the Virginia Tech campus left at least one person dead and one …

  13. Tlaloc says:

    I hate it when people on either side bring up the 2nd Amendment after a shooting like this. In addition to being crass, it’s the worst way to examine the arguments, since it focuses on the particulars of one case.

    Really? I would have thought it the best way since you are, right at this moment, witnessing the effect of the prevalence of guns in our culture: 32 dead kids.

    If that makes you squeamish or anything maybe it’s because it’s not an okay thing to let continue.

  14. Bill Faith says:

    Tlaloc, 32 innocent people were murdered today, with no chance to fight back, because people like you denied them the right to arm themselves. Sleep well, Tlaloc.

  15. William d'Inger says:

    right at this moment, witnessing the effect of the prevalence of guns in our culture:

    Um, what about the roughly 80,000,000 American gun owners who did NOT kill anybody today?

  16. Gollum says:

    Tlaloc: Yes. Absolutely. Since the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas we’ve seen passage of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, creation of a federal agency designed specifically to regulate firearms (BATF), enactment of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Protection Act, the Crime Control Act of 1990, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, and the Violent Crime Control Act of 1994, not to mention a plethora of similar laws passed by individual states designed to prohibit or limit firearms sales and/or ownership and yet, 41 years later, we still have tragic college campus shootings. So, obviously, what we need is more gun control laws. Where do I sign?

    Hey, while we’re at it let’s appoint a “Gun Czar.” You know it’s not a serious enforcement effort until there’s a czar.

  17. Blame-the-guns bias watch…

    ***updated: 7:45pm Eastern press conference…law enforcement says it has a “preliminary ID on the shooter”…but they are not prepared to disclose the identity yet…”following up on leads”…”two weapons recovered”…not identifying yet…no on…

  18. McGehee says:

    Um, what about the roughly 80,000,000 American gun owners who did NOT kill anybody today?

    Ssshhh. Don’t disrupt Tlaloc’s narrative.

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    What about the 80,000,000 American gun owners who most of can’t carry their guns but if they could, might of been able to shot this dirty piece of dung and stopped some of this, what about, what about, what about, leave it to the liberals to use something this horrible to advance their agenda of taking every ones rights away but their own, don’t you people have any shame at all, the bodies are not even cold and the smoke has not even cleared and you people and your media are sensationalizing it for your own gain, again! I think maybe we should be praying for these poor souls and their families who probably still don’t know whats going on or why, and maybe you could try blaming the bastard who committed the crime this time.

  20. Steve Verdon says:

    If that makes you squeamish or anything maybe it’s because it’s not an okay thing to let continue.

    Yeah, like how laws against murder and rape have done such a great job stopping people who are intent on killing others.

    Tlaloc is actually a public school principal. When one student acts out instead of trying to find the bad student and punish them, he punishes the whole school. That way he looks ineffective and stupid.

    This is the exact same logic that people use for banning pit bulls. Ban them and then no more dog maulings. Never mind that out of the 20 – 25 fatal maulings each year, pit bulls only account for a handful fatalities which means that other breeds are also killing people. And part of the problem are stupid owners who want living weapons. So guess what they’d do with a “pit bull” pan? Move on to rottwielers, mastiffs, bandogs, or some other large, powerful breed.

  21. G.A.Phillips says:

    And I call for the resignation of all the elite Media who have heartlessly and ruthlessly sensationalized this horrific mass murder for their ratings and agenda!!!!

  22. floyd says:

    How many would have been killed if the students had guns and were trained in their use for self defense?

  23. DL says:

    Just to note that he gave it all up and stopped the slaughter when the guys with guns were getting near (he shot himself when the cops came)
    A pragmatist might argue well that the problem was that there simply weren’t enough guns around to deter him!

  24. cian says:

    I love it. The thinking on show here is what has the country in such great shape. As a way of pointing out how rare such occurrences are, G.A. wants to know why no one is mentioning the 80 million people who didn’t kill anyone today, and Floyd reckons the best way to protect the 80 million from these rare occurrences is to arm everyone.

    If I’ve a gun and he has a gun then, hey, we don’t need no stinkin’ laws.

  25. George Elkerton says:

    Perhaps the biggest UNSAID conundrum is the TOTAL FAILURE of police and their “911” to save the students. And yet, the POLICE are always considered to be the Great Saviors in stopping crime by the gun controllers and their news media.

  26. Tlaloc says:

    Um, what about the roughly 80,000,000 American gun owners who did NOT kill anybody today?

    They STILL wouldn’t have killed anyone if they hadn’t owned guns, now would they?

  27. Tlaloc says:

    How many would have been killed if the students had guns and were trained in their use for self defense?

    Here are the problems with that line of thinking:

    A) it totally ignores all the extra fatalities that would occur if you had so many more people armed.

    B) there is no reason anyone would have needed a gun to stop this guy. Why not suggest they be armed with Mace or a taser? You know something that is unlikely to kill if used accidentally or by someone who snaps? Or at the very least less likely to kill 30+?

    Oh yeah.

  28. G.A.Phillips says:

    Cian and Tlaloc, dudes what in the great blue hell are you dudes talking about? Do you have any Idea how many liberally rights protected criminals shoot people dead in the inner cities because they know how easy it is to pray on people that are not armed? And I wonder witch group of societal geniuses gave them them the Idea that we are all animals and that life don’t matter, but that’s another story.

  29. William d'Inger says:

    They STILL wouldn’t have killed anyone if they hadn’t owned guns, now would they?

    Who knows? The largest mass slaughter of school children in America was comitted by a bomber (Andrew Kehoe) in 1927. You’re never going to stop random nutcases from going on rampages. Blaming the VT massacre on the prevalence of guns is boilerplate liberal dogma, but it doesn’t mean a thing. Per capita, American automobile owners kill more people with their cars than gun owners do with their firearms. Eliminating guns is not going to eliminate mass murder.

  30. Bithead says:

    Tell me something, Tlaloc…. what’s your position on the legization of so-called ‘recreational drugs’ and why?

    And let’s save time by your not dancing around this one… answer the question directly.

    (Clue: I’ve already researched this)

  31. Tlaloc implies that someone who is trained and armed would wildly shoot at anything that moves, killing anyone nearby. Typical- anyone who would own a gun is stoopid and unsophistcated, right?
    NEVER mentioned in the media are the stories of everyday people-heroes- who protect themselves and thier families from carjackers, robbers, etc. Why should we be rendered completely helpless against the physcopaths of the world for whom gun laws do not apply, no matter how rigid.

  32. Gollum says:

    Here are the problems with that line of thinking . . . it totally ignores all the extra fatalities that would occur if you had so many more people armed.

    Of course, the problem with *that* line of thinking is that the ‘extra fatalities’ are purely your assumption.

    Why not suggest they be armed with Mace or a taser?

    Because the effective range for mace or TASER is only 15-18 feet. Against a gun, those tools are only slightly more effective than harsh language.

  33. Bandit says:

    Almost as if we should have learned something the last time.

    They did – passing more gun control laws increases gun violence

  34. Joe Charles says:

    Let us pray for the victims and leave the politics to next month.

  35. floyd says:

    Cian;Nearly every boy in my fourth grade class was the proud owner of a bolt action .22 caliber single shot rifle. Sold at the local western auto store for around $10. Hey they even trusted most of us with fishhooks!
    We were also taught respect for parents and authority along with gun safety.
    BTW; We really DIDN”T need so many “stinking laws”. In a community of four thousand decent people[and one old pervert], we had one full time and two part time police officers sworn to “protect and serve.”

  36. Dave says:

    Hello,

    When my parents were attending High School both of them were involved with Firearms.

    My Mother was on the Rifle team at Tacoma High School.

    My Mother never killed anyone.

    My Father actually brought his shotgun to School so he could hunt Ducks down at the Lake after school.

    My father never killed anyone.

    So called “Gun Free Zones” give an Illusion of Safety that can very easily be shattered by
    any Sick person that knows that potential Victims are all Disarmed there.

    Just as Burglers always go for the easy Target, So it is with Mass Murderers.

    They know they will be unopposed.

  37. […] Jumping the Gun […]

  38. X: THC says:

    Question Marks…

    “This didn’t have to happen”, Cho Seung-Hui said, after brutally murdering thirty-two people at Virginia Tech University.

    And this terrible tragedy of sons, daughters, mothers and fathers didn’t have to happen, if we’d only listened.

    But we never listen.

    We never listen to those that are different from us- the outcasts, the lonely, the homeless, the ones that are unspoken for. We don’t try to understand. We shun them and put them out of our minds because of our fear that we will become like them.

    And these people become more and more lonely and alienated in their isolation.

    Words like “creep”, “deranged misfit” and “psycho” devalue this killer’s humanity so we don’t have to face how similar he is to us. Cries of “how could he have been stopped” are uttered by media quick to sensationalize and gain market share, when the words “how could he have been listened to” are never considered.

    Because we don’t want to listen.

    We don’t want to hear about loneliness and alienation when we’re all so busy with our lives, making money and making friends. And the unpopular, the ones that don’t fit in, the lonely ones are ignored or made fun of because we don’t care to understand anything about them.

    As a boy, Cho Seung-Hui “was picked on, pushed around and laughed at over his shyness” (Associated Press). When he started college, according to the Guardian, “his mother took his dormitory mates to one side to explain about her son’s unusual character and implored them to help.”

    And he clearly needed help, devaluing himself so much that he called himself “Question Mark”.

    There are more “Question Marks” out there. There are millions of them. And if we don’t listen to them, they will follow the same path again and again, because people are not connecting. We are becoming more and more disconnected from each other, creating more and more “Question Marks” every day.

    Most “Question Marks” don’t become murderers. Some just kill themselves. Most harm no one and live just as we do, needing antidepressants to appear what we call “normal”. They may be someone you know, someone you love.

    This “Question Mark” was once a little boy, who cried, and smiled and loved, He wanted to fit in just like you and I. But that desire to fit in transformed itself into anger towards a society that shunned and ignored him.

    How many more times will we shun and ignore the one that doesn’t fit in, the one in the corner, the one that’s different? When all we have to do is listen, before it’s too late.

    But we won’t.

    Thirty-two human beings who did not know Cho Seung-Hui were murdered.
    They were sons, daughters, fathers and mothers, with dreams of futures that will never come and children that will never be born. The thirty-two leave behind people that love them. People that are now scarred for life by this horrible day of death.

    To most of us that have not been directly involved, this tragedy will become a memory and fade like all the others that came before.

    And the “Question Marks” will appear with more frequency, again and again, because we don’t listen.

    We never do.

    —————

    http://www.x-thc.com