Built on Facts

Re: Nidal Hasan’s Weapons

God help me, I resisted mightily. If my fellow SB friend Greg wants to spin the Ft. Hoot shooting as a cause for gun control then frankly there’s pretty much nothing further to say. You’d think a @#$% major in the @#$% army on a @#$% army base just might not have been terribly inconvenienced in procuring weaponry even if every civilian gun in the hemisphere vanished in a puff of sunshine and wishful thinking. But I was going to leave it alone, assuming that that particular point makes itself. To each his own.

But he wrote a follow-up post asserting a few points of fact, pretty much all of which rather wildly miss the mark. As a physicist, semi-pro educator (this blog!), and enthusiastic firearms owner and advocate, I simply can’t help setting the record straight as to the points of fact. The political gun-control points I will grit my teeth and let slide. Let’s begin:

He apparently carried two pistols, and both are designed to be effective killing weapons. The more newly designed Five-sevN that he had purchased under the noses of the FBI who was busy investigating him is specifically designed to be very effective at killing large numbers of people in close quarters, to have more controlled “follow-up shots” and to pierce body armor.

The Five-Seven (weird trademark capitalization is goofy even when Apple does it) is not designed to kill large numbers of people in close quarters, except insofar as any pistol is most effective relatively close. It’s a pistol like any other, and does the same thing. With the exception of the last three words, you could replace Five-Seven with pretty much any centerfire pistol except the niche wilderness big-bore revolvers and have a statement that works just as well.

But the Five-Seven was designed to fire a rather unusual 5.7x28mm round which is itself designed to pierce body armor. That much is entirely true. But what’s not true is that the armor-piercing handgun ammunition is available in the US. You cannot buy it, it is a violation of federal law. To be clear: if Hasan bought ammo for this pistol in the civilian market he bought ordinary, standard 5.7x28mm ammo. And the 5.7x28mm round sucks at pistol velocities for the purposes of incapacitating or killing. Though Greg sarcastically speculates it might be good for hunting moose, in fact in many states it would be banned for hunting even small critters on the grounds that such a small round would be cruel to the animal by virtue of the injury being too small to reliably kill quickly. For that matter the armor-piercing ammo wouldn’t have been much better – the ability to penetrate armor is more or less precisely the inverse of what’s needed to damage tissue. This is why police and self-defense ammo is almost exclusively hollow-point, which is good for quick incapacitation but terrible at armor penetration.

In short, the very fact that the pistol was designed for military use against armor-wearing opponents makes the pistol poor for anything else. Even if he had the armor-piercing bullets, which he didn’t.

The other gun was a magnum, a.k.a., miniature cannon.

Magnum doesn’t mean that. I suppose you might think so if you didn’t know anything about guns, but that wouldn’t make you correct. Magnum means all kinds of things depending on context. The .357 magnum Hasan possessed but apparently didn’t use is a solid but not particularly unusual round. The .22 magnum is a very small bullet. The .44 magnum is ginormous, but no one uses it for actual combat because it’s unwieldy. Magnum shotgun shells have more pellets but they’re slower-moving. Some of the largest pistol bullets (.50 AE, .454 Casull, etc) aren’t labeled magnum at all.

None of this is to say the weapons Hasan chose weren’t dangerous and lethal. Certainly they were, and for his actions he deserves nothing but a short drop and a sudden stop. It is to say that a matter of empirical fact the weapons he carried were relatively ordinary, and that the weapon he actually used was in fact among the least effective weapons he could possibly have picked – certainly orders of magnitude less dangerous than a standard combat rifle. (The M-16, by the way, actually shoots a slightly narrower 5.56mm projectile, but the bullet is about twice as heavy and moving around 50% faster. This makes it much more effective, and yet it’s still the target of continual controversy among military circles for its not-always-impressive terminal performance. In my state it’s illegal for hunting deer for that very reason – too high risk of an escaped, injured deer rather than a quick kill. UPDATE: The previous sentence is not quite right – the Texas requirement is just that the round be centerfire, so effectively the 5.56 mm is the smallest legal hunting round. Other states vary, some do enforce a larger cutoff.)

You can make up your own mind about the politics of gun control (on an army base!) – as I said I’m not going to argue it here now – but at least now we can be clear as to what actually happened.

Comments

  1. #1 Joshua Zelinsky
    November 12, 2009

    “but that would make you correct” I think you mean “but that wouldn’t make you correct”.

  2. #2 Miko
    November 12, 2009

    On the contrary, I feel that military bases are one of the few places that we should have gun control. Most gun owners have proven themselves to be responsible people and it would be improper to infringe upon their rights of self-defense. On the other hand, the military has consistently shown that it is unable to act responsibly and as such I would fully support a law prohibiting members of the military (including those in active combat duty) from carrying or using any sort of weapon.

  3. #3 avault
    November 12, 2009

    So you’re a gun nut and a death penalty advocate. If gun control isn’t the answer, then could you please enlighten us as to what the answer is? Just how do you suggest we get people to stop shooting each other without taking away their guns?

  4. #4 passing stranger
    November 12, 2009

    Guns don’t kill people. It’s the bullets.

  5. #5 JThompson
    November 12, 2009

    At least he didn’t call ‘em “Assault weapons!!111111″. I’ve been hearing that all day. Drives me nuts.

    I’ve also been told repeatedly by people that have apparently never seen a gun, much less shot one, that his weapons were easily convertible to full auto. Cause, yeah, everyone knows how easy it’d be to control a freaking fully automatic .357 handgun.
    Especially since the only way to easily convert either weapon to fully automatic (Which I’m leery of going into detail on because some idiot would try it die when their gun blew up.) would make the gun continue firing until it either came apart or the clip was empty.

  6. #6 Ksoolz
    November 12, 2009

    “But what’s not true is that the armor-piercing handgun ammunition is available in the US. You cannot buy it, it is a violation of federal law. ‘

    Similar to murder?

  7. #7 bobh
    November 12, 2009

    “You can make up your own mind about the politics of gun control (on an army base!)”

    A bit disingenuous there Matt, throwing out that straw man in the parens. The gun control point that I have heard is that crazy little NRA pushed idea that records of gun purchases can not be made available to officials investigating terrorist links. Was that the case in this incident? It seems unclear at this time but still – that concept is f’ing nuts.

  8. #8 Jeff Darcy
    November 12, 2009

    “the 5.7x28mm round sucks at pistol velocities for the purposes of incapacitating or killing”

    If it sucks so much, how was Nidal Hasan able to kill as many people as he did? Was he a particularly good shot? Was it a statistical aberration? I’m not trying to claim your statement is untrue, but it doesn’t immediately seem consistent with the results in best known example of these rounds being used.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    November 12, 2009

    A pistol is almost always a poor choice for a hunting weapon precisely because it sucks at killing anything at significant range (it’s not just exit velocity; you lose accuracy quickly because there is less barrel to spin up the round before it exits). Pistols are much more suitable for close-in combat, or situations where you need to conceal the fact that you are packing heat. The reason Maj. Hasan could not have done with an M-16 what he did with a pistol is that it’s bloody obvious that you are about to fire a weapon of that size. Also, from the news reports I have seen they apparently do have gun control on base at Ft. Hood, which I can understand from the point of view of the army wanting to control inventory–but that also implies that Maj. Hasan would have had difficulty carrying an M-16 anywhere on base other than the firing range.

  10. #10 Charlie (Colorado)
    November 12, 2009

    Well, this should be interesting. I’m glad it’s not my comments section. Good of you to give it a try, Matt. Let’s see how many of your comments actually adress your facts, and how many accuse you of being Evil.

    Jeff, the answer to your question is that if he’d, say, been using the Army’s issue 9mm, he’d have killed a lot more people. He had a crowd of hundreds, in a very restrictive space, more or less trapped, and he fired about a hundred rounds over the space of ten minutes before the armed police arrived. It’s pretty astonishing that he only killed 25 percent of his victims.

    Ksoolz, you might want to try an experiment: go out and try to buy a box of fifty murders. Since the ammo is regulated and unavailable to civilians, it’s hard to get.

    Miko, that’s just about the silliest thing I ever seen posted on a science blog. I laughed heartily. Then I had the frightening thought you might be serious.

    Avault, there’s at least one answer that would have cut the number of deaths substantially: if these Army people had had weapons, he might have shot one or two people; he certainly wouldn’t have shot forty-odd.

  11. #11 Matt Springer
    November 12, 2009

    #1: Thanks!

    #8: Because human beings are easily damaged by fast-moving projectiles, even small ones. The tiny .22 has comparatively terrible performance but is responsible for a lot of deaths simply because it’s very old and common. Any bullet can kill, but some are much more efficient than others all things being equal. There’s a reason your local cops don’t use 5.7, they probably use the much larger and heavier .40 S&W. His bullet choice was probably the reason so many of Hasan’s targets were only injured. It’s horrific, but we should be thankful he didn’t use something else.

    #3: I said I wasn’t going to argue gun control now, as it’s been beaten to death elsewhere (and here, in previous posts). But yes, I’m a firearms enthusiast and (in cases like this) a death penalty supporter. I make no apologies for either. If you disagree, you may read this blog in the assurance that you won’t have to hear about it much. But if knowing the author holds those views is just too much, feel free to read the other blogs here at ScienceBlogs, most of which are run by people with very different views!

    #7: He’s in the army, my experience is that pretty much everyone in the army owns weapons in civilian life. It simply wouldn’t have been a meaningful data point. But in any case it’s an epic missing of the point by the people making the argument – the man gave extremist PowerPoint presentations to his colleagues, was in contact with al-Qaida, and attended the same freaking mosque the 9/11 hijackers used. The army deliberately looked the other way. There absolutely was dereliction of duty by the military in not stopping him, but it wasn’t anything that would have been helped by seeing he purchased a gun.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    November 12, 2009

    I was basing my description of the pistol and its intended use and functionality on the information provided by the manufacturer, which is what your comrade fellow gun enthusiast Hasan probably based his decision to buy this weapon on as well. In particular, this pistol is designed to recoil in such a way as to make it possible to place a series of bullets into your human targets quickly rather than having to re-adjust the aim as much as with other pistols. These are called “Follow-up shots.”

    The main point of my postings on this has nothing to do with anything you’ve mentioned in this post. So I assume that you agree with my arguments regarding gun check laws and the tacit guilt of the NRA and gun supporters in general in the tragic deaths at Fort Hood.

  13. #13 Onkel Bob
    November 12, 2009

    A pistol is almost always a poor choice for a hunting weapon precisely because it sucks at killing anything at significant range

    Wasn’t Hogzilla killed with a pistol? :^P
    Matt you did well to ignore Dr. Laden on this one, and would, well be better off teaching pigs to sing. On this subject, many are deaf and blind to their limitations. Ayup, guns kill people, as do bullets, as does cancer, and heart disease. Criminals use guns, but they also use computers, paper, and a sly techniques of persuasion. Do any of those non sequiturs explain or justify the criminals behavior? Too many want to criminalize things when the focus should be on what you do with those things. But, whatever, I need to go back to the swine choir.

  14. #14 Jeff Darcy
    November 12, 2009

    Thanks for the answers, Matt and Charlie.

  15. #15 Roadtripper
    November 12, 2009

    Note to self: in the future, disregard the inane blitherings of anyone who uses the term ‘gun nut’ when referring to firearm owner.

    Rt

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    November 12, 2009

    RoadTripper: Ignoring my arguments will make you feel better, but you’ll also be much less well informed, and you may not see it coming when we arrive to take away your guns.

  17. #17 bobh
    November 12, 2009

    At #11.

    So Matt, you are unwilling to address the straw man charge or the F’ing insanity of the NRA restriction put on reporting of gun purchases.

  18. #18 bobh
    November 12, 2009

    At #11.

    So Matt, you are unwilling to address the straw man charge (see the post on The Questionable Authority blog) or the F’ing insanity of the NRA restriction put on reporting of gun purchases.

  19. #19 Matt Springer
    November 12, 2009

    Greg: What, manufacturer ads are the gospel truth now? ;) Actually the ad copy does get across the point that the (unavaliable in the civilian market) armor-piercing bullets do in fact pierce some types of armor, but it neglects the rather important point that they’re not good at much else. Same thing with the civilian version. The recoil claim is even more of a stretch. The 9mm cartridge that’s the military standard issue doesn’t have much recoil either. From my own experience, fast and accurate shooting doesn’t start to degrade with cartridge size until maybe the .40 S&W range in a lightweight pistol.

    As I said, I specifically am not addressing the gun control issues. I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said hundreds of times elsewhere in the last few days. It’s sufficient to say that no, I do not agree.

  20. #20 Matt Springer
    November 12, 2009

    #18: No straw men here. There are plenty of people arguing for tighter control over weapons like the FN Five-Seven, and I’m simply pointing out that in fact the Five-Seven is nothing special. That’s that. If the charge is specifically that weapons are hard to get on a base, well I have to disagree. It’s as simple as walking to the practice range. If you think there’s a higher probability that the other armed people there might have been able to stop him, well…

    And no, I’m not willing to get into arguing about gun control, reporting, or registration. I am only (here) interested in correcting misconceptions about what actually happened.

  21. #21 Uncle Al
    November 12, 2009

    Nobody accuses 12 ga. shotguns of being heinous mass killers of children and puppies. Eight rounds of 0 buck can be fired in 12 seconds – Mossberg, Ithaca, Remington. That would be 96 0.32 caliber pellets exiting at 1200 fps.

    Assault is an attitude not a device. The answer to assault is return fire, as demonstrated. A plastic soda straw is a lethal weapon with rapid incapacitation. If government fears honest citizens owning guns at their own expense, then it should.

    http://4rwws.blogspot.com/425MolonLabe.jpg
    The United States Constitution (c)1791. All Rights Reserved. What part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand?

  22. #22 mk
    November 12, 2009

    Ah yes… there’s nothing quite so entertaining as watching frightened little boys flail about defending their guns. ;^}

  23. #23 Onkel Bob
    November 12, 2009

    Ignoring my arguments will make you feel better, but you’ll also be much less well informed…

    Having read many of your arguments before, I disagree. Your arguments are repetitious (if not somewhat tedious) and well represented in the marketplace of ideas. However, I suspect you were being facetious since you appended the snide remark about confiscation.
    One thing I would really love to see is a Dunning Kruger like study among the well educated. Dr. Laden is, unquestionably, intelligent and well educated. He is also extremely vocal about firearms. Yet he also lacks even the most basic understanding of them. (5.7mm for hunting moose?! Magnum equates to miniature cannon?) It seems when this subject appears the emotional side overrides any critical analysis. To take this to the far reaches of logic, it’s a bit like listening to Shockley talk about physics and anthropology, on one subject he’s an unquestionable genius, on the other a blithering moron. How does one reconcile the two? Does one’s ego inflate so much that they believe they are infallible on all matters, and so do not need factual basis to their sustain their arguments? And no, Dr. Laden, I will not be joining the swine choir at your place either. This is just a drive by… (I should be MatLabbing…)

  24. #24 demo
    November 12, 2009

    If it sucks so much, how was Nidal Hasan able to kill as many people as he did? Was he a particularly good shot? Was it a statistical aberration? I’m not trying to claim your statement is untrue, but it doesn’t immediately seem consistent with the results in best known example of these rounds being used.
    ++++++++++++++++++
    The shooter may not have been a particularly good shot on his own. Word is getting out now that at least one of the handguns used had a frame mounted LaserMax sighting system. Couple that with a low recoil firearm and getting follow-up shots on target can be easier and quicker.

  25. #25 Matt Springer
    November 12, 2009

    #24: All guns are very dangerous. All of them can kill someone. There’s no beating around the bush on that point. As a matter of relative danger, some are capable of doing a lot more as a matter of average effect than others. As a matter of the statistical experience from studies of law enforcement shootings, more of the people he hit would have died if he had used something more like an average 9mm or .40 S&W pistol.

    Lasers, by the way, have their place but they’re vastly less useful than you’d think. There’s a reason neither the police nor the military generally bother with them. Accurate shooting is a matter of firing without disturbing the aim point, which the laser doesn’t help. In any case they’d be impossible to regulate even if they did make much difference – a laser pointer and a clamp would accomplish the same thing.

  26. #26 demo
    November 12, 2009

    Lasers, by the way, have their place but they’re vastly less useful than you’d think. There’s a reason neither the police nor the military generally bother with them. Accurate shooting is a matter of firing without disturbing the aim point, which the laser doesn’t help. In any case they’d be impossible to regulate even if they did make much difference – a laser pointer and a clamp would accomplish the same thing.
    +++++++++++++++
    My assertion is that the laser ‘could’ have helped increase the probability of accuracy if he were really aiming. I didn’t assert ‘should’. It takes training and practice to be a good shot even with the best equipment. Then again, the number of killed/injured may have been nothing more than just pulling the trigger in close quarters.

    Sullenberger ditched a plane in the Hudson and everyone on board lived to tell about it. Now that’s a statistical aberration.

  27. #27 jon
    November 12, 2009

    Since the gun enthusiasts are showing up for this one, maybe someone has the answer to this question. Seems to me there should be a standard kill-to-wound ratio for different handguns. By looking at the number of killed and wounded in Ft. Hood, this stat could be an indicator for whether Hasan’s weapon(s) were typical or were unusually lethal. Does such a stat exist, or am I being naive?

  28. #28 Matt Springer
    November 12, 2009

    Such stats exist, but by its nature the data is exceptionally rough. The FBI did a study in the 80s called “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” that’s widely cited, which might be a good place to start. With the caveat that I wouldn’t trust anything in the article itself, there references under the Wikipedia article “handgun effectiveness” seem to be found in credible journals and would bear reading.

  29. #29 Darren
    November 12, 2009

    jon,

    The closest thing I know of to that is the ‘One-Shot Stop’ database compiled by Evan Marshall, et al. A ‘one-shot stop’ is defined as a single hit to the torso that incapacitates an attacker. There are some serious questions about this database, but it’s the closest thing I am aware of to your suggested statistic.

    The other reason the wound-to-kill thing is going to be difficult is that a) people get shot in a variety of anatomic locations, b) shooter skill varies greatly, and c) a lack of willing participants to get a valid baseline.

    Considering that we don’t know how many people were shot with the FN and how many were shot with the .357 Mag, and where anatomically the survivors and fatalities were shot, we have no way of knowing at this time how “effective” the 5.7×28 turns out to be. I did read one report of a soldier with an entry wound over his sternum that did not penetrate the chest — that would be consistent with what I would expect a 40-grain varmint bullet at 1700 fps to do. The 5.7×28 would be expected to make shallow wounds if it expanded on contact, and the sternum may be thick enough to stop the fragments.

    Expanding bullets can also become ‘plugged’ by tissue or clothing and fail to expand, increasing penetration at the cost of the size of the permanent wound cavity.

    Think of a handgun as a screwdriver with a long reach. It pokes holes about the diameter of the bullet (maybe more if it expands properly) through tissue. Most pistols won’t penetrate more than 14″ in FBI ballistic gelatin testing. The Five-Seven is a very narrow, sharp screwdriver, and the wounding capacity depends greatly on exactly where you put the screwdriver. It’s not a death ray, but being stabbed deep into the neck or mediastinum is dangerous whether it’s done up-close with a dagger or from a little farther away with a pistol.

    Given the design of the projectiles and their lack of mass, the penetration of the 5.7x28mm with civilian ammo is going to be poor. You’d really have to hit the head, neck, mediastinum or aorta/vena cava to make a lethal wound. Given the shooter’s elevated position, I would not be at all surprised if most of the dead were shot in the head or neck.

  30. #30 Ahcuah
    November 12, 2009

    Nobody else has pointed out (as far as I noticed) that 5.7 mm equals .22 inch.

    Unless the bullets were really souped up, they were still just .22′s.

  31. #31 Jon
    November 12, 2009

    Matt and Darren, thanks for the replies. I was obviously oversimplifying, but will go to Google Univ to learn about this interesting topic. And thanks, Darren, for the screwdriver analogy – that image will be one more legacy of this whole creepy mess that’ll be hard for me to shake.

  32. #32 Matt Springer
    November 12, 2009

    #30, there’s actually lots of projectiles with a .22 inch diameter and they vary wildly in effectiveness. The major factors are bullet weight (which means length, generally) and bullet velocity. The .22LR (which most people mean by .22) is a very very lightweight bullet traveling at average speeds. The 5.56 NATO bullet is essentially the same diameter but much longer and heavier and traveling at close to twice the speed. And even the relatively lowly .22LR can be and has been deadly.

  33. #33 Science Avenger
    November 12, 2009

    mk said: Ah yes… there’s nothing quite so entertaining as watching frightened little boys flail about defending their guns. ;^

    Sure there is: watching frightened little girls squeal with alarm at the mere thought of people possessing guns, as if they were magic talismans turning any peaceful person they touch into a coldblooded killer.

  34. #34 Darren
    November 12, 2009

    jon,

    Sorry about the visual, but it is a good analogy.

    The 5.7x28mm is a little more powerful than a .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire. It’s a step up from .22LR, but not a big one.

  35. #35 jb
    November 12, 2009

    Just a minor point. The 5.7x28mm was designed to be a high velocity round even when used in a pistol. Wikipedia lists the velocity for the 28 gr. SS195 JHP round out of the Five-Seven pistol as 2040 ft/sec, which is substantially greater than normal pistol rounds, like the 9mm or .357. We’re starting to edge into rifle territory here, and I would think that would increase the lethality of the round by quite a bit.

  36. #37 Captain patriot
    November 12, 2009

    Well we probably won;t see a gun ban from our leftist government this time. Since an Islamic terrorist murdered all those people, the Obama administration is willing to overlook a fellow Muslim’s “mistake”.

    Now let’s look at it from another point of view. if that had been a white conservative southern male who was baptist who did this act of treason, every news media outlet in existance and every Obama czar would have been going ape shit trying to ban all guns, bullets, knives, Bibles, churches, etc.

    Double standards suck, but not worse than Islamic terrorist and traitors. This freakshow of a man should be charged with treason and executed before a firing squad for his treason. Sadly, the most punishment he will get will be an ice cream headache from his five star hotel, oops, I mean prison cell on the beach.

    This country is weak. Thank you lefties. We appreciate your concedrn over hurting Mr. Hassan’s precious little feelings. The fucker should be hanged along with those who try to protect him. Traitors.

  37. #38 Carl Brannen
    November 12, 2009

    Matt, I forget if I’ve mentioned this, but one of the guys I know from the local chess club is Sid Woodcock, who helped design the Detonics pistol which is basically a concealable M1911 .45 ACP. I’d much rather be shot with a Five Seven.

    Speaking of Veteran’s Day, Sid worked for the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. At the end of WW2 he was messing around in occupied Greece, blowing up bridges so the Germans would have difficulty withdrawing.

  38. #39 Darren
    November 13, 2009

    Jon,

    Some more data for you. Tried to post it over at Greg’s blog but Captain Harvard apparently hates being told he’s wrong, and then shown he’s wrong. Must be an absolute joy in the classroom.

    There are three comparable mass public shootings for comparison. One of them happened just down the road from Fort Hood, the other at Major Hasan’s alma mater.

    Killeen, TX – 1991 – 23 killed/43 shot – 9x19mm ~50% fatal
    VA Tech – 2008 – 34 killed/47 shot – 9x19mm ~75% fatal
    Fort Hood – 2009 – 13 killed/42 shot -5.7x28mm ~30% fatal

    You can do the math if the anthropologist cannot or will not. The circumstances are basically identical in the three instances, one lone gunman able to shoot at will at close quarters. Accuracy is not a factor given the limited range involved.

    I was surprised that so many people survived out of the number wounded, and the explanation is, as far as I am concerned, that Major Hasan’s choice of firearm was inferior in terms of killing power compared to the 9x19mm. He would have killed some people with a .22 LR, but he would have likely killed more with a more powerful handgun. Rather than being the optimal tool to kill people in a confined space, it seems to be underpowered and less effective than the century-old 9x19mm.

    Greg’s insistence on the term ‘cop killer’ borders on a tautology — it should be banned because it is a cop killing gun, but the only people declaring it to be so are the people who want to ban it. The only reason I could ever see him agreeing with, well, reality is that he also wants to ban every handgun more powerful than the 5.7x28mm.

  39. #40 Darren
    November 13, 2009

    One correction:

    VA Tech: 32 killed/55 wounded – 9x19mm ~60% fatal

    Sorry about that.

  40. #41 sinned34
    November 13, 2009

    #37:

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  41. #42 Zifnab
    November 13, 2009

    In terms of gun control, I’ve heard the Killeen and VA Tech shootings as an excuse to deregulate gun bans. Since the VA Tech shooting, there was a bill on the floor in Texas to drop the prohibition against concealed weapons on college campuses.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/hotstories/6432279.html

    Fucking madness!

    Taking the Fort Hood case, you’ve got a situation in which everyone has been trained in use of firearms, and weapons are readily available to all. And Hasan still shot 42 people.

    Whatever may be said for restrictive gun control policies, it seems abundantly clear that simply giving everyone access to a weapon doesn’t do a damn thing to prevent a violent crime like this.

  42. #43 Anonymous
    November 13, 2009

    and weapons are readily available to all

    No. They are not. Pretty much only civilian police & MPs, and maybe at the range.

    It may be counterintuitive, but military bases are gun-free zones for all but a few, and certainly not at a medical processing center like the Ft. Hood SRC. Nobody there was armed, which is why Hasan shot 42 people.

    The first two people he met with a firearm took him out, which is kind of the point of not having restrictive gun laws. If anyone in the SRC had a pistol, he would have been firing for seconds, not minutes, and the number of dead and wounded would have been far lower. Major Hasan likely chose the SRC because everyone there was unarmed, just as George Hennard and James Huberty chose restaurants and many other people have chosen schools.

    You don’t get a lot of mass public shootings at gun ranges, though the percentage of firearms per person is typically much higher there.

    I see your point, but your underlying facts are not true.

  43. #44 CCPhysicist
    November 13, 2009

    The incident would have been a lot shorter if he had been using a double-action 357 revolver instead of a semi-automatic. My cousin hunts deer with a Colt Python like the one shown at the top in this photo (8″ barrel and scope)
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/38/Pythons2.jpg
    but it is optimal for a single shot, and then only when the hammer has been cocked by hand. Cops went to semi-auto weapons for a good reason. But a cannon? No. That term would be reserved for a 0.50 handgun like the one seen in some legendary YouTube videos.

    Obvious troll or obvious racist? the Obama administration is willing to overlook a fellow Muslim’s “mistake”. Hard to tell, because I know some of the latter who actually believe all sorts of lies about Obama.

    PS – Weapons are controlled on that base. Ft. Hood is not the wild west where everyone wears a gun in a holster.

  44. #45 Darren
    November 13, 2009

    Police went to semi-autos not because of deficiencies in the accuracy or power of revolvers, but in part because reloading is easier and faster, and the people that were shooting at them were using semi-autos as well.

    The Python has one of the best double-action triggers ever made. The trigger is lighter in single-action, but to be honest there has been a lot of engineering that has gone into making semi-autos have even close to the same kind of trigger control that double-action revolvers have had since the turn of the century. In fact, many semiautomatic pistols issued to police have a “double action only” feature that gives them a smooth 8-12lb trigger pull for every shot. The “DAO” is considered a safety feature, because the hammer is always down until a shot is fired, and it takes deliberate action to fire the pistol.

    People who really know what to do with a revolver are amazing, there’s a professional shooter named Jerry Michulek who is a freak. He beats shooters using semi-auto pistols in competition on a regular basis.

  45. #46 Matt Springer
    November 13, 2009

    Re: #41′s point about #37 being an obvious troll.

    I agree, and here’s my new policy, effective now. If your comment cannot be distinguished from trolling, even – especially even – if it’s nominally supporting my position, it risks being deleted. Anyone can advocate their position here in a thoughtful and coherent way, but if you want to do so in a thought-free and incoherent way you’re going to have to do so on your own site.

  46. #47 rob
    November 13, 2009

    hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side–or a phased plasma rifle in the 40 W range.

  47. #48 doc Russia
    November 14, 2009

    there is a saying:
    “If you want to double the effectiveness of a round, shoot them again”
    Old addage concerning the argument for 9mm double stacks when we were going away from the single stack .45.
    I think that the likely reason for the high kill ratio is that Maj Hasan probably shot victims multiple times. According to reports, his cargo pants were *filled* with mags. Each mag holds 20 rounds. What his pistol lacked in efficacy, it made up for in volume of fire.
    I would look at the fact that even people shot multiple times in the torso and being combat effective as making the firearm less reliable as a stopper.
    btw, the Marshall and Sanow data is not what I consider reliable.
    As for the gun control issue;
    This took place in a gun-free zone by an individual already being investigated by the FBI. Texas requires a background check for gun sales. Who does the background check? Well, that would be the FBI.
    So, I would point that out as compelling evidence that gun control certainly failed to protect those soldiers, and likely contributed to the carnage. For those who believe we should collect up all the guns, because somehow *that* would have worked;
    Death first.
    And if you are willing to kill American citizens in order to obtain your political agenda, then you are the Same as Maj. Hasan.

  48. #49 Hal
    November 14, 2009

    “THEY (FORT HOOD INVESTIGATORS) CALLED LAST NIGHT AND ASKED ABOUT A SPECIFIC NAME AND GUN PURCHASE, BUT THE NAME WAS NOT HASAN.”

    This is what David Cheadle, the owner of the gun store wherre Nidal Hasan is alleged to have bought the murder weapon, told ABC news reporters the day after the shootings.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/tracking-source-gun-ft-hood-shooting/story?id=9014618

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cop-killer-gun-thought-ft-hood-shooting/story?id=9019521

    If Hasan is the only suspect, Why would investigators ask about the a gun purchase made by someone other than Hasan, and not ask about a purchase made by Hasan? Unless there is another suspect, their line of questioning makes no sense at all.

  49. #50 J.J.E.
    November 15, 2009

    I don’t really see the point of Matt (or Greg for that matter) picking this particular battle. On the one hand, it is clearly Matt’s opinion that gun control is undesirable. O.K… But he responds to Greg’s post supposedly not to push that opinion, but to pedantically educate people on an issue that is pretty irrelevant unless viewed through the lens of gun-control. So, it is a little bit disingenuous to say this ISN’T about opinions considering gun control.

    And in any event, I think incidents like Fort Hood, Killeen, and VA Tech are really not instructive about gun control issues. We lose probably 3.4x as many people through traffic accidents over any given weekend that we did in total for those 3 incidents spanning decades. Basically, the gun control issue is more properly viewed in the context of the O(8,000) homicide deaths per year and the O(16,000) suicide deaths per year caused by firearms. (U.S. numbers.) A vanishingly small proportion of deaths are caused by tabloid incidents like Ft. Hood. And yes, the interest in that incident is voyeuristic and only serves to multiply the impact of terrorism. I mourn for those lost. But no more than I mourn the loss of someone in a gun-related homicide or an auto accident. The circumstances of their demise don’t promote their deaths to a more meaningful level just because it sells cable news ads.

    Of course, the whole gun-ban issue is pretty much fatuous from both sides. Possessing guns isn’t a good way to prevent crime and banning guns isn’t a good way to stop crime. At best, either is a stopgap measure for the real problem. To me, both are unconsidered emotional arguments that are made in the face of the truly daunting challenge of actually educating and employing large swaths of the population. But, it is just so much more satisfying to draw battle lines over the proximal cause while the true battle rages unchecked in the “background”.

  50. #51 1LTLos
    February 15, 2010

    Sorry that you Anti Gun proponents fail to realize that several thousand laws limiting guns have not curtailed crimes used by criminally minded and also insane but armed people at all. Ergo, wake up and stay out of the dialog because it is my and every Americans right to defend themselves. To the idiot further up the string who is in favor of “gun control on a military base especially” is ignorant of the fact that firearms are quite restricted as it stands on military bases.
    Liberals all seem to believe that since one serves in uniform, they must be a combatant and always carry a firearm.
    This is how far ignorance and stupidity can travel. I thank you because tolerance of this low level of thought is no longer acceptable. I am American and will conduct myself in accordance to my unalienable rights. 45 years of overly liberal domestic policies imposed upon an unwilling American society through the despicable venue of social legalism and the courts have left your life worse off. So please, Hasan purchased firearms with which to murder and he did precisely that. Since when does an outsider dictate law and order for us?
    There are 14 deaths per week in California (Southern) alone and I do not hear anyone crying out for car control or to remove bumpers, accelerator pedals or brake lines to make the cars more “safe” In fact, a firearm, just like an automobile leaves the factory in its safest condition – no need to place limits upon them. The problems are drunk drivers, people with sleep apnea who fall asleep at the wheel) or those who simply were not looking and came to their demise while driving. Two outcomes – two differing situations First as a non gun owner, I was jumped by 4 men and pounded with cinder blocks to my skull fighting for my very life and out lasted these bastards. They returned and attempted to break into my home except I was home recoving from the injuries – this time armed. these creeps ended up in prison! And guess what? they were on parole and career criminals. If you do not like firearms dont buy one – but stay the hell away from my right to own one – Ones opinion is not enough to limit my owning one or use of one when I need to.

  51. #52 1LTLos
    February 15, 2010

    Sorry that you Anti Gun proponents fail to realize that several thousand laws limiting guns have not curtailed crimes caused by the criminally minded and also insane but armed people at all. Ergo, wake up and stay out of the dialog because it is my and every Americans right to defend themselves. To the idiot further up the string who is in favor of “gun control on a military base especially” is ignorant of the fact that firearms are quite restricted as it stands on military bases.
    Liberals all seem to believe that since one serves in uniform, they must be a combatant and always carry a firearm. This is how far ignorance and stupidity can travel. I thank you because the tide of this PC nonsense and intolerance of this low level of thought is causing the pendulum to swing in the direction of American Tradition. I am American and will conduct myself in accordance to my unalienable rights. I have witnessed upwards of 45 years of overly liberal domestic policies imposed upon an unwilling law abiding American society through the despicable venue of social legalism and the courts. This sort of liberalism has left all of our lives worse off.
    So please, Hasan purchased firearms with which to murder and he did precisely that. Since when does an outsider dictate law and order for us?
    There are 14 deaths per week in California (Southern) alone and I do not hear anyone crying out for car control or to remove bumpers, accelerator pedals or brake lines to make the cars more “safe” In fact, a firearm, just like an automobile leaves the factory in its safest condition – no need to place limits upon them. The problems are drunk drivers, people with sleep apnea who fall asleep at the wheel) or those who simply were not looking and came to their demise while driving. Or a criminally minded insane man with a hand gun. You do not limit the law abiding due to one sick, mentally disordered idiot who used a gun. Belief that firearms must come under control due to this murderous creeps actions is equally insane!
    Two outcomes with two differing situations. First as a non gun owner, I was jumped by 4 men and pounded with cinder blocks to my skull fighting for my very life and out lasted these bastards. They returned and attempted to break into my home except I was home recovering from the injuries – this time armed. these creeps ended up in prison! And guess what? they were on parole and career criminals.
    If you do not like firearms dont buy one – but stay the hell away from my right to own one – Ones opinion is not enough to limit my owning one or use of one when I need to.

  52. #53 JohnDeFresno
    December 28, 2010

    Addressing the question from Mr. Avault – “So you’re a gun nut and a death penalty advocate. If gun control isn’t the answer, then could you please enlighten us as to what the answer is?”

    That is a fair enough question. Here is the simple answer – some things are indeed quite simple in their logic.

    How about restoring the various judges’ Consitutional power AND their limitations? That is, as outlined by our founding fathers:
    Preventing the Supreme Court from reinventing the meaning and import of the trial system, a citizen’s right to arm himself, and prevention of taxation without representation as with the attempted takeover of our insurace by Obama’s gang?

    THEN – removing the local liberal judges’ ability to utterly dismiss the felonies charged by our prosecutors “in the interests of justice” when they decide that the defendant shouldn’t stay in prison because his/her mother was neglectful in the formative years. And limiting the politically motivated District Attorneys’ ability to plea bargain the workable major felonies because they want a quick, easy plea for their record books?

    Our thousands of laws on the books are useless unless they are enforced with swift and sure justice. Keeping the predators off the streets – permanently – is the way to keep society safe; not taking away the means for the honest citizen to defend himself.

  53. #54 Matt Worner
    December 31, 2010

    Back in 1968 there were areas in Viet Nam where the civil and military authorities had given up any hope of effective control. They were designated as “free fire zones” and as we flew over them (I was a door gunner) if we saw anything that moved we were free to engage and destroy it. Even there the enemy were allowed to shoot back! They knew that when they went there they took their lives into their own hands. (Rather like areas of New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles)

    Now in accordance with the “law of un-intended consequences” (the underlying principle of most of the idiocy emanating from our congresscritters) we have a similar clutch of free fire zones in schoolyards, campuses, courthouses, military installations, and yes even post offices! Legal actions anywhere else are criminalized in these “sensitive” areas. Simple possession of a device of self protection (a God given right guaranteed to be un-infringed by government) is a criminal act, regardless of whether used or not. Note, however, that the government, the servant of the people, reserves unto itself rights denied to the masters, the citizenry. Yes, the Fort Hood victims were required to die while waiting arrival of the government minions to take action; those self same police who have NO RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT ANY INDIVIDUAL. Real Catch 22 situation. “You cannot protect yourself, and I don’t have to.” Not that policemen of all stripes will not go to the wall to protect an individual; they have, numerous times and many have sacrificed their own lives doing so, but there is no legal imprimatur requiring them to. In fact courts have ruled numerous times that the police are there to protect “society as a whole” (which by and large means government minions first, others if possible) but not any individual.

    What other civil right requires you to take a course ($100.00) and pay a registration fee (another $100.00) to exercise. Imagine the outrage if you were required to pay $100 to register to vote, and another to vote. And the right to vote is not even guaranteed in the Constitution! Implied, of course, and by amendment precluded from being denied to individuals based on certain characteristics (race, gender, age) but never specifically guaranteed like the right to defend yourself and loved ones, even from the government! But the government infringes on these rights at will and few want to go through the legal nut roll of violating their unconstitutional fiat. After all, even when exonerated in court, your lawyer has to be paid.

    The fact of the matter remains, ALL gun control laws are unconstitutional and unless the second amendment is repealed (and the odds of getting 38 states to go along with that are slim to none) they will continue to be passed by traitors to their oaths to “protect, preserve and defend” and enforced by similar traitors.

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