TSA Agent Killed in LAX Shooting, First in Agency’s History

I'm happy that these incidents are so rare. But I can't explain why it's so.

LAX

As Doug chronicled yesterday, a gunman opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday morning, killing a TSA officer and wounding six bystanders. More details have now been released. CBS Los Angeles reports:

A TSA agent was killed and six people were injured Friday in a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, police said.

The gunman entered Terminal 3 at 9:20 a.m. and opened fire, officials said. Law enforcement authorities identified him as Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, who has lived in the Los Angeles area for 1 1/2 years but is originally from Pennsville, N.J.

Preliminary information suggests he was targeting TSA employees. CBS2-s Randy Paige said Ciancia shot two people; both were TSA officers, and one of them died.  Friday night, the TSA identified the slain officer as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39; he is the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the agency’s 12-year history.

According to Chief Patrick Gannon of Los Angeles World Airports, the suspect pulled an assault rifle — possibly an AR-15 — out of his bag, started shooting and proceeded to the TSA screening area, where he was able to gain access to the airport itself.

Security officers followed the man, engaged in gunfire with him, and were subsequently able to take him into custody, Gannon said. Ciancia was wounded, Paige reports, but authorities have released no details on his condition or his motive.

Sources tell CBS News, however, that Ciancia had anti-government views. The Associated Press said the alleged gunman had a hand-written note with him that said he “wanted to kill TSA and pigs.”

CBS2-s David Goldstein reports that Ciancia sent a text message to a family member in New Jersey early Friday in which  he threatened to kill himself. His father called local police in New Jersey, who called Los Angeles police. According to the local police chief, the LAPD sent a car to his apartment. His two roommates said they hadn’t seen him since Thursday and that he was fine.

Rachel Kim, reporting for CBS2, said Ciancia has no criminal background.

The death of Officer Hernandez is, of course, tragic and the incident will no doubt reignite the perennial debate about America’s gun laws. The fact that the shooter had no previous criminal record is noteworthy, in that there would have been no reason to deny him the right to own an assault rifle in a world where it’s legal for any ordinary citizen to do so.

From a purely analytical standpoint, though, the more interesting data point here is the fact that Hernandez is the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the dozen years since the agency’s creation. It has long been obvious to me that the measures taken in response to the 9-11 attacks—most notably enhanced screening to make it harder to get weapons on board a commercial airliner, the hardening of cockpit doors, airline procedural changes in dealing with hijackers, and the fact that passengers are now much likelier to attack a hijacker—have made the airport security queue a much more attractive terrorist target than the airplane itself.

I’m happy that these incidents are so rare. But I can’t explain why it’s so.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Terrorism
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. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The fact that the shooter had no previous criminal record is noteworthy, in that there would have been no reason to deny him the right to own an assault rifle in a world where it’s legal for any ordinary citizen to do so.

    Sorry to go off on a tangent so quickly, but are you aware of what the legal definition of an “assault rifle” is, don’t you?

    Basically, a scary-looking gun. Most of the features that (in theory) distinguish an “assault rifle” from a non-assault rifle are purely cosmetic. And “assault rifles” are among the least commonly used weapons in crimes — most criminals prefer easily-concealed handguns.

    Gun owners have made the AR-15 so popular for a variety of reasons. It’s a civilian version of the M-16, so most vets have at least a passing familiarity with its key features. It’s developed into a remarkably reliable and accurate gun. And it’s so incredibly customizable that it’s basically the Swiss Army Knife of guns — it can do almost anything one needs a gun to do, with the proper accessories, the right tools, and a bit of elbow grease.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I’ve carried an M-16 in a combat zone. Yes, I’m familiar with assault rifles.

  3. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @James Joyner: You made me go back and re-read my comment, as well as your original article, and damned if I didn’t make an error. A small one, but an error nonetheless.

    The article said it was an “assault rifle.” And that has a very specific meaning — a rifle capable of either burst fire or fully automatic fire. I gave the definition of “assault weapon,” which is a purely political and stupid term.

    I seriously doubt that the gun used was an “assault rifle,” like you used to carry. More likely it was an ordinary AR-15 variant, different only in cosmetic features from the average hunting gun.

  4. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    most criminals prefer easily-concealed handguns.

    Sure, but spree-killers prefer AR-15s.

    I don’t think this will reignite the gun control argument. Well, maybe in some quarters. I think it’s more likely that it will lead to an expansion of airport security.

  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @James Pearce: They “prefer” AR-15s because they’re so common. But the Virginia Tech shooter used two handguns, and the Washington Navy Yard shooter used a shotgun.

    There’s nothing inherent in the AR-15 that makes it more suitable for mass shootings; it’s the factors I cited above — commonness and familiarity — that make it the gun of choice for a lot of purposes.

  6. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    They “prefer” AR-15s because they’re so common.

    I thought it was because they’re cosmetically the same as assault rifle.

  7. Tony W says:

    Gun porn aside, it seems logical that once security at the gates is handled, the battle just moves out toward the parking lot and baggage claim. I am not sure how (or whether) you combat this, very unfortunate.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    In the US we allow virtually anyone to get a gun. Yes, there are some laws in place in a some places that might slow people down, but in the real world there are so many loopholes that, yes, anyone can get a gun. Because of that we have one of the highest murder rates in the world, and certainly way, way higher than any other first world country.

    You can make the argument that this is worth it because FREEDOM. Or you can (like me) say that you have mixed feelings and anyway it is simply too hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

    But we owe it those who die to acknowledge that fact, and not pretend this is somehow normal. And in this case one man is dead and six more lie wounded and to start some moronic argument about how stupid everyone else is because they don’t understand guns the way some fetishist understands them is just way outside the bounds of decency.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    They “prefer” AR-15s because they’re so common.

    No, they are preferred because they are high velocity and low recoil, which in combination with high capacity magazines makes them particularly deadly. These are not merely “cosmetic differences”. And for the record, yes, a sawed off shotgun loaded with OO buck can be almost/just as deadly in certain situations.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan:

    yes, anyone can get a gun. Because of that we have one of the highest murder rates in the world,

    I think the reasons “we have one of the highest murder rates in the world” is far more complex than just the easy availability of guns (tho that certainly does contribute).

  11. James Pearce says:

    @James Pearce:

    I thought it was because they’re cosmetically the same as assault rifle.

    Sloppy typing on my part. I meant “the same as a hunting rifle.”

    Oh well. The joke’s not that funny anyway.

    But something did occur to me since I posted that……does anyone else find it odd that people of a certain philosophical bent consider the latest shooting spree to be the perfect opportunity to defend the use of these weapons? One might be led to think their moral compass is in need of fine-tuning.

  12. Tony W says:

    @James Pearce: Yes – I believe that was @MarkedMan’s point.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    Jenos speaks as usual for the Gun Cult, those sick human beings who get an almost sexual rush out of incidents like this. See how giddy he gets? See the way he trips all over himself in his rush to talk about guns? His eagerness to discuss them? You can feel the vile pleasure he gets from gun murder.

    One man dead, others wounded, thousands terrified, thousands more with their lives disrupted, millions of dollars lost, all because weak, pathetic little men obsessed with guns poison this country.

  14. James Pearce says:

    @Tony W: He made a lot of good points.

    The only thing I would quibble with is this:

    not pretend this is somehow normal.

    Spree killings like this are not normal….but they’re becoming so. Every few weeks, a group of innocent Americans just going about their day are terrorized and some even murdered.

    Usually by someone with an AR-15.

  15. Pharoah Narim says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: There is truth in this but lets be honest–we have a cultural fascination with violence and particularly guns used in violence. Remember when the violent scene in movies and Tv were fist fights? That’s been replaced by gunfights. Music, Entertainment, Movies…while not the cause explicitly– plants and cultivates a seed that grows and blooms….particularly in the mentally unstable and those prone to violence anyway. Sad. Not sure how we unscrew the pooch at this point.

  16. wr says:

    @Pharoah Narim: “That’s been replaced by gunfights. Music, Entertainment, Movies…while not the cause explicitly– plants and cultivates a seed that grows and blooms….particularly in the mentally unstable and those prone to violence anyway”

    And yet all that music, entertainment, movies — and hey, you forgot today’s standard bugaboo, computer games — is consumed at the same rate in just about every country in the world, and somehow they manage to resist the siren lure of mass murder.

  17. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’ve carried an M-16 in a combat zone.

    That’s nothing.

    Jenos has spent hours playing Call of Duty 4 in his mother’s basement.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    I think the data would show that as violence in media increased, the murder rate went down. Not saying that’s cause and effect, but neither does it appear to be cause and effect in the other direction.

    Here’s the thing: we will always have fools, we will always have mentally unstable people, we will always have careless and reckless people, and we will always have angry, ruthless, selfish people. In short, we are stuck with humanity. What the United States does that other developed nations do not, is arm all those people with guns.

    It’s the guns, stupid.

    I do not call for more laws, I want society to mature enough to recognize the true nature of the problem. People need to stop buying guns. The rest of us need to stop tolerating people who buy guns. We need to stop enabling them. Because they are disease vectors, no different than someone carrying smallpox or plague. Gun ownership is a dangerous anti-social act.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    Jenos is right, but I’m not sure he”s making the point he thinks he’s making. Yes, there is a clear military definition of “assault rifle”. Yes, a civilian AR-15 does not meet that definition. Yes there is a somewhat different and rather loose definition of “assault rifle” or “assault weapon” used by the general public and the press. Yes, military definition assault rifles, i.e. selective auto fire as opposed to semi-auto, are illegal.

    However, the point to be taken is not that it’s impossible to define “assault weapon”, but that we could choose to ban semi-auto rifles. Australia has severely restricted small magazine semi-autos and banned large magazine semi-autos from civilian ownership. Given the what, billion or more, guns in private possession in this country, it would be difficult to ban semi-auto rifles. But difficult is not impossible, as the Australians have shown.

    If we did an honest cost-benefit analysis of private ownership of handguns and semi-auto rifles, we’d ban the things next week. They’re not really necessary for any legitimate civilian purpose, and the costs should be obvious by now. And please don’t come back with the arguments that this wouldn’t stop killings. It would certainly stop some number, even if small, and the downside, apart from “FREEDUM” and “you’re not the boss of me” would be what, exactly?

  20. Jack says:

    “Hernandez is the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the dozen years since the agency’s creation.”

    People are finally getting tired of having their balls grabbed.

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: The argument you seem to be making — apart from “the angrier and more passionate I am, the less logic I have to apply” schtick — is that gun policy should be set by people who are not only ignorant of the basic facts of guns, but take a great deal of pride in their ignorance.

    So much for the supposed intellectual superiority of that side…

    An “assault rifle” has a very specific meaning, and the gun used here almost certainly doesn’t meet that definition. An “assault weapon” has a very specific political definition that was totally pointless, but this gun probably fit that one.

    Which means totally nothing, but if you toss around emotionally-charged terms like “assault weapon,” you can get the stupid people’s passions roused.

    Even the willfully stupid.

  22. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    From a purely analytical standpoint, though, the more interesting data point here is the fact that Hernandez is the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the dozen years since the agency’s creation.

    Anti-TSA sentiment has been on the rise among certain groups that also tend to be gun friendly.

    Edit: The rise has nothing to do with a Democrat being President. Or that fact that he’s also African-American. Obviously.

  23. Todd says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    More likely it was an ordinary AR-15 variant, different only in cosmetic features from the average hunting gun.

    I think those cosmetic differences are more important than they seem.

    If someone wants to hunt animals, they go buy what we think of, and would recognize as a hunting rifle.

    The AR-15 variants, even if they have the exact same functionality, tell you that the owner is a person who bought the gun with the intention of possibly shooting at other human beings. (I suppose the same could be said of handguns too)

    I have no problem with hunters owning guns. I can even somewhat buy into the self-defense argument for owning a handgun. But a weapon that looks like a military rifle is usually bought by a specific type of person, for a specific (potential) purpose.

    Call it a prejudice on my part if you like, but if I see that someone (especially if they’re not in the military or law enforcement) owns an AR-15 variant rifle, I assume that they have a personality defect … and are precisely the type of person who probably shouldn’t own any weapon.

    … and like James, I’m someone who has carried an M-4 in a combat zone. I have no problem with guns. My problem is with people who seem to want to shoot other people with their guns.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Are you incapable of reading?

    Did I mention anything about “policy?”

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    It has long been obvious to me that the measures taken in response to the 9-11 attacks—most notably enhanced screening to make it harder to get weapons on board a commercial airliner, the hardening of cockpit doors, airline procedural changes in dealing with hijackers, and the fact that passengers are now much likelier to attack a hijacker—have made the airport security queue a much more attractive terrorist target than the airplane itself.

    I’ve said many times that if I were a terrorist and wanted to attack the US transportation network, I wouldn’t bother with hijacking or blowing up a plane, I’d instead blow up the security line. Get a few guys, spread them over several airports, each have them wheel in a suitcase stuffed with explosives, and blow up in the middle of the long, snaking, tightly packed security line. Or, separately, arm those same guys with assault rifles and have them attack the security line, a la the Rome airport attack from the 70s. End result is the same: mass casualties, chaos, and the shutting down of all flights into or out of the US.

  26. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It’s interesting, isn’t it? Airports, malls, schools — all soft targets. But Al Qaeda remains obsessed with the planes. It’s the Orson Wells dilemma: once you’ve pulled off the Citizen Kane of terrorist attacks, what do you do for an encore? They need to top themselves, which suggests they’re about theatrics more than practical effects.

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, well, if I were the leader of an international terrorist network — and I’m not saying I am! — I’d also hit malls, buses, city streets, subway stations, churches, office buildings, etc. I’d plan a Nairobi style Westgate mall attack, or a Mumbai style city-siege.

    It would be easy enough to do here, so the fact that it hasn’t been done maybe tells us that al Qaeda, at least, doesn’t have the men or the ability to do it anymore.

  28. Todd says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I’ve said many times that if I were a terrorist and wanted to attack the US transportation network, I wouldn’t bother with hijacking or blowing up a plane, I’d instead blow up the security line. Get a few guys, spread them over several airports, each have them wheel in a suitcase stuffed with explosives, and blow up in the middle of the long, snaking, tightly packed security line. Or, separately, arm those same guys with assault rifles and have them attack the security line, a la the Rome airport attack from the 70s. End result is the same: mass casualties, chaos, and the shutting down of all flights into or out of the US.

    Not to get this thread off on a different tangent, but when you write something like that on the Internet, do you think there’s a chance that it’s somehow being “flagged” by our intelligence agencies? … and maybe they’re even running cross-checks on you to determine whether it’s something that needs to be investigated further?

    If by some chance the government does (or may) know what you wrote, and looks into it further, is that prudent? .. or an invasion of privacy?

    If prudent, what if the exact same thing was written in an email or sent as a text message?

  29. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    They need to top themselves, which suggests they’re about theatrics more than practical effects.

    This has been obvious for years, which is why I and others have said they were not the threat they’ve been built up as. If they have to choose between effectiveness and publicity, they’ll go for publicity any time.

    I mean, if I really wanted to harm down the US, rather than engaging in some relatively meaningless plane attacks, I’d take a small child, maybe born overseas, say in Canada, born to a former Communist guerrilla, and I’d raise that kid in a very right-wing environment to avoid suspicion, and I’d send him to law school, get him elected to some key posts, maybe even US Senator, until he was in a position to engineer a shutdown of the entire American govern me….hey, wait a minute.

  30. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    but are you aware of what the legal definition of an “assault rifle” is, don’t you?

    I’ve carried an M-16 in a combat zone. Yes, I’m familiar with assault rifles.

    Seriously dude, sit down, shut up, and stop embarrassing yourself.

  31. anjin-san says:

    Spree killings like this are not normal….but they’re becoming so.

    This is the scary thing. It is the new normal.

    I like guns, I’ve been shooting for over 40 years. But Michael is right about the sickness attached to this. I’m not quite ready to get rid of my guns, but I know he’s right.

  32. Grumpy Realist says:

    For all the ranting from the so-called “pro-life” side, they don’t seem to give a damn if people get killed with guns.

    And it’s gotten worse. It used to be that we considered a gun nothing more than a tool–yes, dangerous, so you made sure you knew how to use it properly and you kept it out of the hands of small children and other people who would use them improperly. Now guns seem to be bought by people obsessed with the need to wave a metal dick around in other people’s faces and scare the piss out of everybody.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Al-Cruz?

  34. BleevK says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So much for the supposed intellectual superiority of that side…

    Get some help loser, see a shrink or something.

  35. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Todd: I think those cosmetic differences are more important than they seem.

    If someone wants to hunt animals, they go buy what we think of, and would recognize as a hunting rifle.

    Really? Which features would those be?

  36. anjin-san says:

    Have to head for the hardware store. All I can say is thank goodness we have people like Jenos fighting for the rights of disturbed people with a grudge against the government to carry (at least) five full 30-round magazines of ammunition, and a weapon that will deliver them in a rapid and deadly manner.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    I used to like guns, too, owned a couple, fired more. They’re fun. But I’d analogize it to the fact that I also enjoy driving 100 miles an hour on the 101.

  38. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Oh, look: Jenos has learned that if he pretends to care about guns — a pose he admits he adopted simply to annoy people — and then piggybacks on any tragic death, posters will pay attention to him and his existence will be justified for one more day. Good work, Jenos.

  39. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @Todd:

    but if I see that someone owns an AR-15 variant rifle, I assume that they have a personality defect

    A vision of Leslie Graham immediately appears!

  40. Pharoah Narim says:

    @wr: Those cultures don’t share the same fascination with violence. There is a difference. Junk food is processed different and less dangerous in the body of a bodybuilder than it is in the body of an obese person. One of them needs to eliminate the junk and go in a completely different direction diet wise. For the other…junkfood is meh….

  41. al-Ameda says:

    it’s the same old story:

    We’re a nation of approximately 315M people and nearly as many guns, which are relatively easy to obtain in our gun ownership obsessed country. Statistically, this type of incident is bound to happen occasionally, and given our obsession with gun ownership there is not much we can (or want) do about it.

  42. Gustopher says:

    We have easy access to guns, so there’s going to be a lot of gun deaths. Why does this surprise people?

    It’s like cars — there are a lot of them out there, and a lot of people get killed by them. We accept a certain amount of death to have a convenient personal transportation system.

    Not sure what we get with easy access to guns other than dead people, but as a society, we value the guns more than the people.

  43. michael reynolds says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    There’s just zero data showing a link between violence in media and violence in life. If anything, the reverse would be easier to show.

    The cause of violence is pretty simple: people are aszholes. Aszholes with fists beat other people up. Aszholes with guns kill people. Human nature is not a solveable problem, but guns in private hands is.

  44. john personna says:

    I have long noted that the AR-15 was the spree shooters’ revealed preference.

    And I’ve maintained that is the only role for which it is ideally suited. Hunting, sporting, target guns are different.

    Now you can play at “tactical” which is essentially practice for killing people … but that is a weird post-millennial form of gun-sport.

  45. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Okay, I’ll bite. Which of these features makes a hunting rifle better for hunting (non-human) animals: folding or telescoping stock, pistol grip, bayonet mount, flash suppressor, threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor or silencer, or a grenade launcher mount?

  46. john personna says:

    @Grewgills:

    Also what rifle may run afoul of max magazine restrictions many states have in place for hunter safety?

  47. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan: Check the FBI statistics. Murder with hands/feet and other objects outnumber murders with shotguns and rifles combined.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/20tabledatadecpdf

    Handguns are by far the leading gun used in murders.

    @James Pearce: Except it’s not increasing. You are increasingly aware of anyone who farts while holding a gun though.

    @gVOR08:

    They’re not really necessary for any legitimate civilian purpose

    Pure and utterly willful ignorance. Bubble boy only begins to describe you…

  48. Matt says:

    @Todd:

    The AR-15 variants, even if they have the exact same functionality, tell you that the owner is a person who bought the gun with the intention of possibly shooting at other human beings. (I suppose the same could be said of handguns too)

    You can hunt anything in north America with ONE ar-15 but to hunt the same animals with conventional hunting rifles would require many guns. Otherwise you end up with too much gun or not enough gun both of which are bad.

    In a cost benefit perspective buying one ar-15 is far superior to buying a variety of what you consider hunting rifles.

    Do you consider a mini-14 a hunting rifle?
    http://images6.alphacoders.com/375/375575.jpg

    So as long as an ar-15 looks like this you’re fine with it? It doesn’t look like a military rifle!!
    http://oi42.tinypic.com/2w37pli.jpg

    So that should be okay according to you since it won’t attract “those types”??

  49. Matt says:

    @anjin-san: Except it’s not the new normal. Spree killings extend back hundreds of years here. Valleys and peaks occur throughout history including up till today. Part of the problem is the media’s obsession over anything resembling two or more people being killed. This results in copy cats trying to ring up higher scores and also more people being aware of this stuff happening. Some of the highest death rates in spree killings were over 40 years ago.

  50. Matt says:

    @Gustopher: One must keep in mind though that even if all guns were to magically vanish off the street and criminals were never able to steal them from the police/military or import them like drugs there would still be people getting murdered. Sure there would be fewer deaths but the drop isn’t anywhere near what the anti-gun nuts would hope for.

  51. Grewgills says:

    @Matt:

    You can hunt anything in north America with ONE ar-15 but to hunt the same animals with conventional hunting rifles would require many guns. Otherwise you end up with too much gun or not enough gun both of which are bad.

    In a cost benefit perspective buying one ar-15 is far superior to buying a variety of what you consider hunting rifles.

    Of course buying the upper receiver assembly, modifications to the lower assembly and barrels to accommodate those different calibers will run you $300-600. You could buy rifles appropriate to each type of hunting for about the same price or less, so your cost benefit analysis it bunk. This also ignores that for some hunting a shotgun is much preferred, so no, you wouldn’t hunt everything in NA with one modded rifle.
    The ability to attach flash suppressors, silencers, and grenade launchers has absolutely no benefit to legitimate hunting.

  52. Matt says:

    @Grewgills: @john personna: Supressors are quite legal in England because they at least acknowledge the positives of their usage. Not only do supressors help with hearing of the hunter and those in the general area but they also make living near a gun range much more pleasant. That said there’s no such thing as a silencor as there is always the sound of the gun cycling. The best you can hope for is to load subsonic ammo which introduces all kinds of other problems. Even with subsonic ammo a supressed firearm is quite audible.

    The AR-15 makes an excellent hunting platform and is used by a LOT of people for that. The ability quickly and easily swap barrels allows for fine tuning of the weapon for whatever hunting you’re engaging in (barrel twist length caliber etc). Certain loads prefer certain twist rates even if they are the same bullet size (all .223 etc).

    I find a pistol grip to be much more ergonomic then using a montel carlo style stock setup. Folding stocks makes it easier to stow away the weapon and to carry it. I know people actually hunt pigs with bayonets (they use dogs to tackle the hog). I’m not hot on that idea since it stresses the animal which is unethical and makes the meat taste bad (lactic acid and other nasty stuff builds up in a panic). Although I have bayoneted a hog once in the neck with an SKS because my shot wasn’t as clean as it looked.

    Threaded barrels can accomadate muzzle brakes which can help with recoil allowing for a quicker follow up shot if something unexpected happened with the first shot. I know you’re supposed to be one shot killing but real life rarely follows such clean rules.

    Having said that how many people are actually murdered with bayonets a year? How many people with suppressed firearms? How many with grenades from a grenade launcher? I don’t really think those features are ineherently dangerous. BTW a grenade launcher “mount” can be something simple and silly such as having a groove in the handgaurd.

  53. Matt says:

    @Grewgills: You’re getting ripped off if you’re paying more then 300 for an upper. A good equivalent hunting rifle (one that can match the same MOA) of the same caliber would cost far more.

    THen again this doesn’t surprise me as you don’t even know that you can mount shotgun uppers to an ar-10/15..

  54. Matt says:

    @Grewgills: : My assumption is you’re referring to waterfowl and specifically ducks and such?

  55. al-Ameda says:

    @Matt:

    Sure there would be fewer deaths but the drop isn’t anywhere near what the anti-gun nuts would hope for.

    Anti-gun nuts?
    Are you referring to as “nuts” those who want to make it as difficult as possible for “hunters” and other “sportsmen” to purchase automatic weaponry?

  56. William says:

    I think that the young guy was likely harassed recently by a rude TSA worker . Likely , he drank enough alcohol that day and days there after ruminating upon some perceived slight or misuse of ridicule that incited him , Had he had the political power to have retaliated in that manner i also think it would have long since happened and there would be no story about a “Shooting Spree” with an “Assault weapon” rather an apology from someone sufficient to have relieved the aggravation . I am inclined to think being unable to “Get even” with who ever he felt disrespected him , he generalized the entire agency as the culprit .
    Two things come out of that
    1. conduct yourself as a professional
    2. strive to exemplify the best example of a human being in your line of work.
    that might reduce events for which an apology simply is insufficient and unacceptable .
    Fights break out in Japanese Parliament from time to time, so ,i am inclined to think that there are some things normal human beings find to be abrasive or grating and trigger physical remedy. i confess though that i have never seen them draw out a gun and have at it .
    the thing is though that whatever/whoever the infraction is that caused the trigger mechanism ,it is dealt with then and there and the culprit ends up with a fat lip.

  57. john personna says:

    @Matt:

    People have been repurposing military rifles for sport and hunting as long as there have been military rifles, but never have the designs so diverged. The AR-15 resembles no sport or hunting design. It is meant to fire as many light-cover penetrating man-wounding rounds as one man can carry.

    The .223 cartridge is too hot for small game and too light for heavy. I mean maybe a coyote meets thw sweet spot, but you’d be better off with a scoped bolt action Savage at lower cost.

    The AR is a tactical toy.

  58. john personna says:

    The Savage Axis, a well respected bolt-action rifle and scope combo frequently goes on sale for $300-400 total.

    savage in .308 for ~$310

    The tactical guys are paying more than that, before they start repurposing for sport.

  59. john personna says:

    @al-Ameda:

    We all know where the term came from. Some gun nut thought it would be cute to turn it around. But it isn’t too much of a joke, because we worry much less about gun-less nuts.

    It would have been much better if this nut had not become interested in the AR-15, if he didn’t think his purchase was justified by his desire.

  60. Matt says:

    @al-Ameda: herp a derp is all that warrants. 2/10

    @john personna: Of course as the majority of hunting rifles out there right now were either directly top of the line military weapons for a time or based off a military rifle. THe needs of the rifle hunter closely parallels the needs of a soldier in a lot of respects.

    That said I’ve seen 5.56 take down hogs all day long with one shot. Coyotes rabbits and all kinds of small game are hunted with .223 daily. You can do quite a bit with loads if you want.

    @john personna: Yes that is one bolt action rifle for roughly the price area I stated above. Of course that rifle won’t have that sweet trigger job that your ar does or the comfortable stock you love. It’ll also feel different when shooting thus requiring time dedicated to practice with that specific gun. Now granted shooting a .50 bmg out of an ar is a bit different experience then a .223 but with both setups you’re running the same ergonomics and optics which lends to familiarity.

  61. Matt says:

    @john personna: OOps forgot to mention that I’ve seen 5.56 ARs used to take hogs down all day long with one shot each. I could see it taking a deer if you’re skilled and situations are ideal.

    .223 is used on a daily basis across this nation to kill varmits for food and pest control reasons. You can do a lot with the .223 round depending on what you use.

  62. Matt says:

    @Matt: Okay so I edited this post earlier @Matt: and when I clicked to enter the edit did not appear and the time was out. Now the edit has been successful thus leading to a redundant post. If someone could remove this one and the last post I would be thankful.

  63. john personna says:

    @Matt:

    Anyone with a minute to spare can google what real hunting forums think of the .223 – it is possible, been done, not optimal.

    You aren’t really being honest, substituting “been done” for optimal.

  64. al-Ameda says:

    @Matt:

    @al-Ameda: herp a derp is all that warrants. 2/10

    It’s okay Matt, I figured that you had nothing on “anti-gun nuts” anyway. Thanks.

  65. Todd says:

    @Matt: Just to be clear, I have no actual issue with the weapon itself, and am not in favor of any sort of bans on specific types of weapons.

    If someone wants to use an AR-15 variant for hunting, cool, more power to em.

    But if someone buys an AR-15 for “home defense”, or even worse “because the government/police has them” I tend to view them as a somewhat dangerous type of gun owner.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with people owning weapons (even of the “assault” type). But I do think that every gun should be registered, and every gun owner should have to prove they’ve been properly trained to handle the weapon safely, and that they have liability insurance in case an accident happens.

    I have a hard time seeing how responsible gun owners would have a problem with those sort of things. But then again, if I was a real “liberty loving patriot” I wouldn’t dream of suggesting such “tyranny”, so it’s probably not surprising that I don’t understand. 🙂

  66. john personna says:

    @Todd:

    The problem is that those worrying motives surround the AR-15.

    Why do you think they are noted door prizes at Republican and Teas Party fund raisers?

    The goal is to own a gun at the very limit of legality, the most dangerous weapon you can buy. The gun they don’t want you to have.

    That this logic would appeal to the unstable ..

  67. Matt says:

    @john personna: http://www.americanhunter.org/blogs/223-for-deer-hunting

    Tell me how that wound channel is terrible for quick kills..

  68. Matt says:

    By all measures I’ve seen the 30-30 is still the most popular deer hunting rifle round. That gun would leave you a little more wiggle room for shot placement at the cost of extra weight and recoil.

    I’m not sure where you hunt deer but in the areas I’ve been most kills are well below 200 yards. I can see how it’d be possible to own land that allows for it to occur though.

  69. Pharoah Narim says:

    @michael reynolds: There is a lot to be said for “feel” and intuition. Data and data-driven analysis of humans and human behavior has some benefit but isn’t a panacea for solving problems. To many factors, variables, and exceptions that can’t be described statistically and/or mathematically.

    You think a country that’s fascinated by violence is going to stop owning guns? We already have empirical examples that shows the opposite. The same country (although admittedly a different generation) that has an affinity for alcohol did not give up private possession or consumption of it– even when compelled by law. I say we should stop feeding the beast and at least cause it to slim down. You say, make it uncool or socially unacceptable to be fat. The equivalent of deciding between the hail mary or the hook-n-ladder with one play left to win the game.

    Cultures aren’t ala carte–you have to take the good with the bad. Cultures that have low incidence of killing often have higher incidence of something else unsavory we certainly would want to trade places on. I don’t see a competition between my view or yours…I see them in the same boat–errrr life raft.

  70. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Matt: I appreciate alot of the passion with which you post on this subject but you ignore the fact that “Tactical” IS a sport in this country. Sure, many of the toys have a practical use but that is NOT what brought them to market.

  71. john personna says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Even bolt-action .308 rifles are offered in black, and marketed as tactical, as if you are a SWAT and not a hunter.

    It is a huge market force. And that is kind of worrying because it is all practice for what?

    Either it is practice for nothing, or for a trip to LAX. (The zombie attack ain’t going to happen.)

  72. gVOR08 says:

    @Matt: I note the absence of an example or an argument. Got anything?

  73. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    The zombie attack ain’t going to happen.

    That’s what they always say… just before the zombie apocalypse.

  74. john personna says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Cultures that have low incidence of killing often have higher incidence of something else unsavory we certainly would want to trade places on.

    But as a general rule, Canadians are smarter than us.

  75. john personna says:

    Related:

    If there’s a gun in your house, you’re more likely to be racist, a new study suggests.

  76. James Pearce says:

    @Matt:

    Except it’s not increasing. You are increasingly aware of anyone who farts while holding a gun though.

    Huh, still waiting for the “gun owner farts” story.

    Meanwhile, spree-killings are becoming so common the Spree-Killing Institute has started naming them like hurricanes.