Friday, April 27, 2007

First Impressions, Second Thoughts, and the Third Degree

I have to admit I stole the title for this post from a local sports columnist here, Andy Baggot.

But it fits quite well when speaking of the massacre from several weeks ago. You all know what I am talking about. I am going to refrain from mentioning names or places to avoid the google comment trolls.

I was on vacation in Florida when I first heard the news and was stunned. The first thing that went through my head was "how did he kill so many?". I have my hunches, but we will not really know for a long time, at least until the investigation reports become public record. But this is a blog, so my hunches become blog fodder, and here goes.

As some details came in as I was sitting in my hotel room the first thing that struck me was how very little most of the press knows about guns in general. This really should not surprise me, but I always am a bit distressed when I can point out several things wrong in any one story. For instance, the terms "semi-automatic" and "automatic" were interchanged several times. I heard the term "22 millimeter" used instead of .22 caliber. I saw footage of an officer with a shotgun behind his car door and the announcer described him as a "sniper". Even my wife caught that one.

Also, as always the media tried to make out the police (or anyone) as a hero. All the cops did was show up and clean up the scene. I will agree that the guys who held the door closed to that one classroom could be made out as heroes.

The media's errors were multiple and show that not only do most of the folks on television not know anything about guns but their writers are just as dense on the topic. As usual, journalists as a lot have proven themselves to really not know much of anything on any given topic. You could certainly make the same case when the news folks talk about energy, cars, war, food or anything else. Newscasts are, for the most part never a deep dive into anything - rather it ends up being a general assemblage of half truths, misinformation, and at the worst, lies. I am beginning to think that 60% of this is due to laziness and generally not caring and 40% of it is on purpose, to serve an agenda.

I found the choice of weapons interesting. When I saw what he had I was rather amazed at first, then tried to understand why he would go into that type of situation with those weapons. From what we have heard so far he was armed with a Glock 19 (9mm, 15 round capacity) and Walther P22 (.22LR, 10 round capacity). I don't believe he had the long barrel version pictured in the wiki. I actually looked at purchasing one of those Walther's when it came out, but it is simply too small for my hands.

I understand the choice of the 9mm with hollow points. It isn't my favorite for self defense. The .22 was getting me a bit though. After thinking about it for a few days, I could only have one sad conclusion to understand why he had the .22. It is because he knew that he was going to kill these innocent people assassination style (keeling, bullet to the head). The .22LR cartridge can kill a person just as well as one of the massive .357 or .45 or other types if placed correctly, especially if everyone is kneeling and obeying the instructions of the madman. Those that know a bit about guns have known that hit men and special forces have long used the .22LR for their dirty work. From the wiki:
Intelligence agencies and military special forces have used suppressed 22 LR pistols for assassinations and for eliminating guard dogs or sentries. Some examples include the use of suppressed High Standard HDM pistols by the American OSS, which was the predecessor organization of the CIA. Gary Powers was issued a suppressed High Standard for the flight in which he was shot down. Suppressed Ruger MK II pistols are in current use by the US Navy SEALs. The .22 LR has also seen limited usage by police and military snipers. Its main advantage in this role is its low noise, but it is usually limited to urban operations because of its short range. One weapon designed for this purpose is the Russian SV-99 rifle.
Like I have been saying we really won't know until the investigation reports become public, but things have been leaking out that are confirming my worst fears. That those men and women kneeled down and received their death sentence from this madman. I truly hope that this is not the case, but it is my gut feeling that the madman knew that those men and women would be scared silly and follow instructions.

I don't know what I would have done faced with this type of situation. The optimal situation would be to return fire, but I don't carry everywhere I go. The next best thing would be if EVERYBODY attacked the guy. Pens, computers, backpacks, desks, everything being launched at this madman would have confused him for sure, long enough to allow time for people to gang up on him and take him down. This brings me to one other thought.

I assume that this person didn't have any real firearm training, and I am almost positive he had no combat experience of any type. I also know how difficult it is to hit paper targets that are just hanging from a hook while I am squeezing off rounds at the range. In an environment where people would be moving, with objects being tossed my way at great speed I can only assume that the madman would not have been as effective as he was in the slaughter. I have never used my handguns in a situation where I was trying to shoot a moving target but I can hardly imagine anyone would be very good at it without LOTS of practice. It is my firm belief that if the kids in the classroom would have instantly made for a very chaotic environment for the madman that he would not have exacted such a high death toll.

It is all well and good to armchair quarterback this thing like so many others have, but we should really cut the crap and start to realize that in incidents like this while the toll may have been reduced by events outlined in the last paragraph, it is still more likely that one person who had a gun and some training could have made a real difference.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Everything you say here makes sense.