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April 16, 2007

The Blotter: Never Let Tragedy or Stupidity Get in the Way of Your Political Agenda

Brian Ross and Dana Hughes prove just how little they know about firearms, laws related to them, and the effects of both with their knee-jerk response to today's Virginia Tech shootings, where they attempt to place the blame not on the shooter, but on high-capacity magazines:

High capacity ammo clips became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons.

Web sites now advertise overnight UPS delivery of the clips, which carry up to 40 rounds for both semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

"High capacity magazines read extreme firepower and gusto. Stock Up!" is the headline of one of many gun shop Web sites.

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

"When you have a weapon that can shoot off 20, 30 rounds very quickly, you're going to have a lot more injuries," said Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"It's not one or two shots at a time when you're putting 20 bullets, spraying them into a classroom or into a dorm room," Hamm said.

This blog entry is so ignorant and factually incorrect on so many levels that ABC News should immediately print a correction or a retraction, and require Ross and Hughes to go to a basic firearms safety class before ever being allowed to write about the subject again.


They state:

High capacity ammo clips became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons.

This is absolutely and totally false.

First, "clips," literally thin strips of metal designed to hold cartridges for ease in loading, were never addressed in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

For that matter, the law never banned existing high magazines either, "magazines" being the word that Ross and Hughes needed, but were too technically ignorant to use.

As a matter of practical fact, if Hughes and Ross had bothered to speak with any experts at all, they would have discovered that high-capacity magazines were never in short supply prior to 1994, and the commercial sale of high-capacity magazines was never slowed, much less stopped, during the ten years the ban was in effect from 1994-2004.

The commercial sale of high capacity magazines was legal during the ban, and the supply of pre-existing magazines was so plentiful that prices for many magazines never increased. In some instances, prices actually dropped.

Web sites now advertise overnight UPS delivery of the clips, which carry up to 40 rounds for both semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

Again, Ross and Hughes are lazy and factually incorrect.

Large commercial sporting good stores sold high capacity magazines during the entire life of the ban, because the ban never affected the sale of existing magazines, and there were warehouses full of them. Nor are we limited to 40-round magazines (not clips, which are something else entirely). If you want a 100-round magazine, you can have it shipped the very next day. You always could.

"High capacity magazines read extreme firepower and gusto. Stock Up!" is the headline of one of many gun shop Web sites.

Horrible grammar, perhaps, but at least they know the difference between a magazine and a clip. Online and commercial retail stores, again, have never been affected by the ban in any measurable way, nor have been consumers.

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

There are tens of million of people in this nation with "large quantities of ammunition." Does that mean we're all criminals in the minds of these ABC reporters? Probably.

The fact of the matter is that high-capacity magazines were never difficult to get, and that even standard capacity magazines would have made very little difference in today's tragic shooting. For anyone with even a rudimentary familiarity with their firearm, changing a magazine takes less than three seconds. Those who practice can make a magazine change in less than that. Whether a shooter has two 15-round magazines or three 10-round magazines, the outcome would likely be very much the same.

Once again, Ross and Hughes spray rhetorical blanks, and hit nothing.

But they aren't quite done yet: now they need an expert opinion to provide the illusion of competence and objectivity.

Send in the clown.

"When you have a weapon that can shoot off 20, 30 rounds very quickly, you're going to have a lot more injuries," said Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"It's not one or two shots at a time when you're putting 20 bullets, spraying them into a classroom or into a dorm room," Hamm said.

I sholdn't have to point out the fact that their "expert" is from the anti-gun Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a viciously anti-gun group, who is as light on the facts and as high on rhetoric as is Ross and Hughes. Note how Hamm purposefully uses the word "spray" to create an image of machine gun fire, even though machine guns are strictly regulated, and no one is even suggesting one was used in Blacksburg. Id also note the obvious and undisputed fact that a weapon with a high-capacity magazine does not fire any faster than one with a regular magazine.

This Blotter entry by Ross and Hughes is a study in bias, wrapped around ignorance, justified by fear.

I don't think that is how ABC News should run their newsroom, but then, that is their decision to make.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 16, 2007 03:23 PM
Comments

It's amazing how little people know about firearms.

I know a lot of crime writers who know almost nothing about the firearms they write about. Of course, that doesn't include the ones who are cops or ex-military.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at April 16, 2007 03:59 PM

They've got a script and they're sticking to it

The liberals, like Ross, who are in control of the MSM will do somersaults to blame anyone but the person responsible for such a horrible massacre

No different from their reporting of the daily massacres of similar nature that occur in Iraq.

SEen from the prism of politics, these horrific acts are blamed on the "occupation", just as this killers hateful acts will be blamed on the gun lobby.

Sometimes, people are just evil, and they commit evil acts.

Posted by: TMF at April 16, 2007 04:29 PM

I don't know if ABC delays comments on the Blotter, but they are modded with a heavy hand. It seems they're no longer taking comments on the clips article.

Posted by: mark l. at April 16, 2007 04:30 PM

strickly --> strictly

Posted by: anon at April 16, 2007 06:56 PM

Why is it the Left always blames the tool rather than the responsible individual? All those dead students might be alive today if the college hadn't made them sitting ducks by making the campus a gun free zone. In Britain gun related crime has exploded despite disarming the law abidding with predictable results.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at April 16, 2007 11:44 PM

Great Post. I was going to write a very similar post myself because I noticed the exact same thing, but you said it perfectly, so I'll just link to you.

I was watching TV tonight and the reporter kept calling the sale of firearms a "loophole", and it wasn't an editorial. Just regular news.

Posted by: brando at April 17, 2007 12:56 AM

I tried to leave a comment several hours ago pointing out some of their technical errors but they apparently only post attaboy comments. I excerpted and linked your post at Virginia Tech: The Day After

Posted by: Bill Faith at April 17, 2007 04:11 AM

Ban all guns!!! Then ban Knives, boxcutters, screwdrivers, sticks, rocks, bows, arrows, spears, Paper (paper cuts), automobiles, dogs, cats, UFO's (they do illegal operations ya know), glass, hard plastic, nails, nail guns, staple guns, well... anything with GUN in it,

Then we can wrap pillows around all the semi-sharp edges and block out 237 of our 240 channels and sit around the fire (virtual of course) singing camp songs.

OR........

Hold the crooks and idiots responsible for their actions.

Posted by: Retired Navy at April 17, 2007 05:11 AM

Addressing only the "clip" vs. "magazine" issue here.

I'm a member of the technically illiterate masses. I've heard both terms over the years. It seems to me that they have always been used interchangeably, "clip" being the slightly hipper form.

Isn't it possible that the authors knew what part of the weapon they were talking about, but used a word that, while technically inaccurate, had become common usage among those who are not gun enthusiasts?

Posted by: Doc Washboard at April 17, 2007 08:20 AM

Navy:

While I certainly agree with you that we must hold the crooks and idiots responsible for their actions in regard to gun deaths, there is a certain amount of "closing the barn door after the horse has escaped" to that approach.

I can't speak for everyone who favors gun control, but I think that the big idea there is that it would be better to get the weapon out of the hand of the crook and the idiot before the killing happens, rather than be satisfied with punishing the wrongdoer after someone has already been killed.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at April 17, 2007 08:27 AM

Doc,

I hear ya. I kow a lot of people who have a great deal of expertise in firearms. One is Fred Rea of Florida. He's the absolute best. Another friend, former DEA agent and current hardcore cop, goes to Fred for the finer points of firearms and if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me.

I also own an M1, the classic clip-fed weapon (clang) and a GI .45, a classic magazine-fed handgun. I know the difference between the two but you're right, clip has been used so often by so many that they've become synonymous. It's like calling my .45 an automatic when, to be accurate, it's a semi-automatic.

We pedants will continue to correct people and there's not much anyone can do about that. My excuse is I'm old and not about to change.

But the larger issue here, even though I was the first to post on this thread, is that we've stepped away from the real tragedy of this shooting to focus on nomenclature and picking another partisan fight.

I for one want to step back, take a deep breath, and let the human side of this human tragedy sink in and, at least for a day, not argue petty points of difference.

That's just me, but I thought it needed to be said.

Posted by: David Terrenoire at April 17, 2007 08:39 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 04/17/2007
A short recon of whats out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at April 17, 2007 09:34 AM

What bothered me most yesterday -- besides the obvious lack of preparation for crisis management by the overpaid VPI administration, is that no one is talking about the defeat in the state General Assembly in August 2006 of a bill which would have permitted adult students and professors to do what is permitted in the rest of the Old Dominion: to lawfully carry concealed, registered weapons.

If one professor or one grad student had been armed there would have been a lot less carnage.

Read a grad student's op ed piece at Gates of Vienna. I precede his essay with a snarky response to it by the Roanoke Times -- it was more effective to run them "backwards" after the fact. His supercilious attitude stands out better that way.

I wonder if the Roanoke Times will run a second piece by the grad student *now*...

Here's the beginning of his essay from 2006:

"On Aug. 21 at about 9:20 a.m., my graduate-level class was evacuated from the Squires Student Center. We were interrupted in class and not informed of anything other than the following words: You need to get out of the building.

Upon exiting the classroom, we were met at the doors leading outside by two armor-clad policemen with fully automatic weapons, plus their side arms. Once outside, there were several more officers with either fully automatic rifles and pump shotguns, and policemen running down the street, pistols drawn.

It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of protecting myself.

Please realize that I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school..."

http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2007/04/ringing-down-days-va-tech-students.html

Posted by: dymphna at April 17, 2007 09:59 AM

oops-- my reference isn't clear...my bad, didn't hit "review" button.

By "his" snarky attitude, I meant the guy at the Roanoke Times, not the student.

Like UVa, Roanoke is a Blue Blob in a red state.

Posted by: dymphna at April 17, 2007 10:03 AM

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Posted by: piyawan at April 18, 2007 02:54 AM

Regarding high capacity magazines not being banned:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c103:1:./temp/~c103BbFdci:e650830:

Posted by: mark at April 18, 2007 07:47 AM