January 09, 2011

Salon Posts Completely False Article About Giffords Shooting

Some guy named Justin Elliott is claiming that the Glock 19 and magazines used in the Giffords shooting yesterday would have been banned by the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

The only thing he got right in his article was the punctuation.

The semiautomatic handgun used in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen other people on Saturday would have been illegal to manufacture and difficult to purchase under the Clinton-era assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

According to police and media reports, the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, legally purchased a Glock 19 with a high-capacity magazine in November at a gun store in Tucson. Under the assault weapons ban, it was illegal to manufacture or sell new high capacity magazines, defined as those that hold more than 10 rounds. The magazines used by Loughner had 31 rounds each, according to police.

Unfortunately for Elliott and the dolts he has for editors at Salon, his claims are almost entirely untrue.

The Glock 19 was completely legal and freely available during the entirety of the laughably ineffective law. It was never illegal to purchase, manufacture or own at any point, and Glock actually introduced 11 new models to the US market during the time Elliot claimed they were banned.

Likewise, the 31-round magazines used in the shooting have never been banned from civilian ownership, or commercial and retail sale. Only the manufacture of new magazines was banned during the time the law was in effect. Sale, ownership, possession and use was always perfectly legal as a federal matter.

Elliott's post isn't just wrong, it's embarrassingly wrong.

Update: Salon has since updated the article, and it's still wrong:

The high-capacity magazine of the semiautomatic pistol used in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen other people on Saturday would have been illegal to manufacture and difficult to purchase under the Clinton-era assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

According to police and media reports, the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, legally purchased a semiautomatic Glock 19 with a high-capacity magazine in November at a gun store in Tucson. Under the assault weapons ban, it was illegal to manufacture or sell new high-capacity magazines, defined as those that hold more than 10 rounds. The magazines used by Loughner had 31 rounds each, according to police.

Salon was embarrassed enough to partially correct the claim about the gun (without having the integrity to acknowledge their gross error), but is still completely incorrect in claiming that so-called "high-capacity" magazines were illegal to sell during the ban.

They most certainly were not.

Shooters could buy high capacity magazines—new or used—during the entire ban.

But Elliott still isn't done being incompetent, even in the revised article.

Such as this false claim, which still remains:

Between 1994 and 2004 when the assault weapons ban was in effect, gun manufacturers such as Glock could not market handguns with high-capacity magazines. If the ban were still in effect, it's less likely that Loughner could have obtained a gun with a high-capacity magazine. Stores could legally only sell used high-capacity magazines at that time, and new magazines could not be manufactured.

Manufacturers could indeed legally manufacture and market guns capable of using high capacity magazines during the entire life of the so-called ban. What they could not do is manufacture new high capacity magazines after the law went into effect.

Elliot is still incompetent, as are his editors. It is obvious that Joan Walsh's magazine is far more interested in misleading their readers and pushing a radical agenda than telling anything resembling the truth.


There are a number of additional mistakes and misrepresentations in the article, as well as plainly misleading statements. Among them:

MISREPRESENTATION: “If Loughner had been using a traditional magazine, "it would have drastically reduced the number of shots he got off before he had to pause, unload and reload -- and he could have been stopped," Daniel Vice, senior attorney at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells Salon.”

FACT: The standard Glock 19 magazine holds 15 rounds, With one round chambered, that’s a total of 16 rounds. With one additional magazine (Glocks are factory shipped with two magazines), a total of 31 rounds. To “unload,” one need only press the magazine release which causes an expended magazine to drop free from the magazine well and takes only a fraction of a second, or perhaps a bit longer than a second for an untrained operator. Inserting a loaded magazine and releasing the slide to chamber a round would commonly take no more than six seconds for an untrained operator. I have no idea what Vice considers a “traditional” magazine, but even if it was a Clinton ban magazine of only 10 rounds, the shooter would still have 21 readily accessible rounds. Vice is trying to suggest that there would be substantial time differential with “traditional” as opposed to “extended” magazines, but that differential would have been far less significant than he suggests. The best means of stopping the shooter would have been one or more honest citizens carrying their own weapons in the crowd, but the Brady Center opposes that as well. It’s tragic that none were apparently present.

MISTAKE: “State laws are also an issue....‘Even if folks had seen Loughner with the gun walking up to the congresswoman, it was perfectly legal until he started firing,’ Vice says.”

FACT: The applicable Arizona laws are:

“13-1202. Threatening or intimidating; classification
A. A person commits threatening or intimidating if the person threatens or intimidates by word or conduct:
1. To cause physical injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another; or...”

“13-1204. Aggravated assault; classification; definition
A. A person commits aggravated assault if the person commits assault as prescribed by section 13-1203 under any of the following circumstances:
2. If the person uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
B. A person commits aggravated assault if the person commits assault by either intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person, intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury or knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure the person, and both of the following occur:”

13-1202 is a misdemeanor and 13-1204 is a felony offense. Vice could not be more wrong if he tried. “Loughner with the gun walking up to the congresswoman...” is violating both statutes, particularly if he had the weapon in his hand. The laws pertaining to self defense and use of deadly force would also have empowered any armed bystander to, at the very least, point their weapon at Loughner and challenge him. The second he began to raise his weapon toward anyone--arguably, particularly the congresswoman--he could have been immediately shot.

MISREPRESENTATION: “He [Vice] also notes that Glock pistols are particularly easy to fire, letting off rounds as quickly as the operator can pull the trigger. "They are very good at killing people quickly," he says.

FACT: Any handgun, revolver or semi-automatic pistol like a Glock, will fire “as quickly as the operator can pull the trigger.” Vice is suggesting that Glocks, apart from other types of firearms, are somehow uniquely adept at “killing people quickly.” This is nothing more than an attempt to demonize a tool and to mislead those not well acquainted with firearms. While Glocks are rugged, reliable handguns, they possess no unusual or unique “killing” abilities. No firearm does. It is more than a mere issue of semantics to observe that it was Loughner who killed six people, not the tool he used.

MISLEADING: “‘Our gun laws are so weak that someone who couldn't get into the military, who was kicked out of school, and who used drugs walked into a gun store and was able to immediately buy a semiautomatic weapon,’ he [Vice] says.”

FACT: Many people are not accepted for military service, some are kicked out of school, and many have used illegal drugs at one time or another, yet these are not, by themselves or together, a bar on possession of legal ownership of firearms, or even to driving, in any state. While the Brady Center has, over the years and under various names, tried to ban virtually all gun ownership by various devices, unless Vice is suggesting that anyone who has ever been unfit for military service, been ejected from school, or has used illegal drugs should be forever banned from buying a gun--this would require nationwide laws and a massive computerized registry--he is being particularly misleading here.

One of the supreme ironies and unintended consequences of the Clinton Gun Ban was that it actually inspired the design and manufacture of a variety of new, particularly concealable weapons and the foundation of a variety of manufacturers. It was Glock that led the way with the Glock 26 in 9mm, designed for the 10 rounds to which all newly manufactured magazines were then limited. Needless to say, the design was a runaway success and spawned many successful copies from other manufacturers.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 9, 2011 06:25 PM

More likely is was a 30-round magazine with one round loaded in the chamber. Not a 31 round magazine.

Posted by: USCitizen at January 9, 2011 06:52 PM

30 rounds in magazine, plus one already chambered, perhaps?

Posted by: Someone at January 9, 2011 07:35 PM

The Glock 19 is a 9x19mm model. The factory extended Glock magazines hold 33 rounds of 9x19mm, not 31.

Yet another thing the author got wrong. Somewhere, Stephen Hunter is screaming at the persistence of stupidity in the news room. It's not that they're stupid, it's that they just don't want to know.

The author of this piece might as well have posted that the Glock is much more dangerous when held sideways.

Posted by: Darren at January 9, 2011 07:36 PM

That's funny, but I'm not sure we should discourage this. Almost the entire Democratic party knows the score on citizens and our guns now. If their clueless coastal enclave base insists on making them charge up that hill one more time, it's their own funeral.

Posted by: hitnrun at January 9, 2011 07:40 PM

Glock extended mag is 32 rounds capacity but mine will only hold 31, spring too tightly fit.. Works great but won't hold 32...

Posted by: Dave in dallas at January 9, 2011 07:46 PM

And the 32 rd mag for glock 9mm pistols is univwrsally available, in stores, in mail order, at gun shows.. Clearly it is not banned...

Posted by: Dave in dallas at January 9, 2011 07:48 PM

The county sheriff was very clear in a press conference this afternoon. The extended magazines held 30 rounds each. He was also clear that the shooter fired 31 rounds. I've already heard 2 reporters (including Fox News anchor Bret Baier) fail to understand and turn this into a 31 round magazine. If I'd watched more news I'd probably have seen more.

To me this translates into third party extended magazines. I've tried a few, and seen them in capacities from 29 to 34 rounds. Some are completely unreliable. Some are reliable in the KelTec SUB-2000, but not in a pistol. Only one that I tried was reliable in a Glock 17.

As a side note, the extended magazine plays merry hell with the balance of a pistol; it feels entirely wrong. I suspect the shooter did a bit of practice with the extended mags in place. Since it's AZ that doesn't mean someone at a range saw him practice, there is plenty of empty desert if you drive a bit.

Posted by: Beregond at January 9, 2011 07:56 PM

The factory Glock extended 9mm magazine holds 33 rounds. I have never had a FTF from any Glock magazine, including extended 9mm and .40 S&W magazines. It is possible that he only loaded 30, with one in the chamber, but the mag as designed, sold, advertised and loaded (with firmness) holds 33.

I doubt he practiced much at all. Reducing the range to four feet pretty much eliminates accuracy issues related to balance.

I recall the "Curbstomp Woman" from the Rand Paul debate a few months ago, and the libs freaking out about how roughly she was treated. Anyone running at an elected official, especially a controversial one, should be taken down. This is a good example of why. If she had pulled a Glock out from under her sweatshirt, she could have done the same thing to Rand Paul that was done to Rep. Giffords, without the ability to intervene in time.

I don't particularly care what the Sheriff said at the press conference. He's not a real credible source at this point, he has most likely never used a Glock with extended magazine. Thirty rounds is a common capacity for mags, but 33 is unusual and pretty much unique to the Glock 9mm handgun.

It's also an irrelevant point. He had a gun and other people did not. If he had backed off ten feet he could have reloaded standard 15-round Glock 19 magazines and continued at will, just like the VA Tech shooter did.

Posted by: Darren at January 9, 2011 08:12 PM

"The author of this piece might as well have posted that the Glock is much more dangerous when held sideways."

Well, it is (only because you've rendered yourself unable to use the sights - thereby reducing your chances of hitting the intended target and increasing the chance of launching errant rounds downrange.)

Anything used by the ignorant or incompetent is always more dangerous (including, obviously,

Posted by: ThomasD at January 9, 2011 08:19 PM

The mag is 30 rounds, but can be extended with a + mag extension giving 32 rounds.

Posted by: Dandapani at January 9, 2011 08:43 PM

There were tens of thousands 0f G-18 magazines available(33 round Glock mags) for over the counter or mail order purchase during the ban years. If it took you more than an hour to locate one in a Shotgun News and by phone, you were dong it wrong.

Everybody is fixated on magazine capacity. Say he was limited to 10 rounds, why not just bring a sack with three loaded guns in it? Why reload at all? Why not sling two (or more) sawed-off 5 Round pump shotguns uner a long coat while you are at it for 10 rounds of buck and 30 handgun ronds loaded and ready to fire?

Hi-caps are entirely unnecessary for a individual committed to mayhem, all they need is another loaded weapon aka a 'New York Reload'. The function of a high-cap mag is to provide for a well-regulated(I.E. effective) Militia where carrying multiple weapons in protracted ground combat is impractical.

Back around the turn of the twentieth century, there was a courthouse shooting somewhere in the mid-atlantic I remember once reading about. The Shooter had a .45 Long Colt single-action Peacmaker revolver and a sack full of .45 Long Colt Deringers. The reports were after emptying the revolver, instead of taking time to reload, he simply started grabbing derringers from the sack.

I cannot remember the exact details but IIRC, even under armed opposition, he accomplished a much higher casuality count wtih what by todays standards primitive cartridge weapons, no 33 round mag necessary.

Posted by: Mark Turner at January 9, 2011 08:55 PM

In comments they start off right away with another lie, that we have the highest murder rate, we don't, we're not #1:

# 1 Colombia: 0.617847 per 1,000 people
# 2 South Africa: 0.496008 per 1,000 people
# 3 Jamaica: 0.324196 per 1,000 people
# 4 Venezuela: 0.316138 per 1,000 people
# 5 Russia: 0.201534 per 1,000 people
# 6 Mexico: 0.130213 per 1,000 people
# 7 Estonia: 0.107277 per 1,000 people
# 8 Latvia: 0.10393 per 1,000 people
# 9 Lithuania: 0.102863 per 1,000 people
# 10 Belarus: 0.0983495 per 1,000 people
# 11 Ukraine: 0.094006 per 1,000 people
# 12 Papua New Guinea: 0.0838593 per 1,000 people
# 13 Kyrgyzstan: 0.0802565 per 1,000 people
# 14 Thailand: 0.0800798 per 1,000 people
# 15 Moldova: 0.0781145 per 1,000 people
# 16 Zimbabwe: 0.0749938 per 1,000 people
# 17 Seychelles: 0.0739025 per 1,000 people
# 18 Zambia: 0.070769 per 1,000 people
# 19 Costa Rica: 0.061006 per 1,000 people
# 20 Poland: 0.0562789 per 1,000 people
# 21 Georgia: 0.0511011 per 1,000 people
# 22 Uruguay: 0.045082 per 1,000 people
# 23 Bulgaria: 0.0445638 per 1,000 people
# 24 United States: 0.042802 per 1,000 people
# 25 Armenia: 0.0425746 per 1,000 people
# 26 India: 0.0344083 per 1,000 people
# 27 Yemen: 0.0336276 per 1,000 people
# 28 Dominica: 0.0289733 per 1,000 people

Posted by: DirtCrashr at January 9, 2011 08:57 PM

O.M.G. ... take a look at the mutt (Justin Elliott):

Posted by: Paul A'Barge at January 9, 2011 08:59 PM

CY wrote: "What they could not do is manufacture new high capacity magazines after the law went into effect."
Actually, they could manufacture high-capacity magazines during the ban if they were labeled for military or LEO use only. I have many magazines with this labeling that I purchased post-ban.
Also, we should refer to them as "normal-capacity magazines" and clinton-era ones as "restricted-capacity"...

Posted by: ryanspeed at January 9, 2011 09:35 PM

ryanspeed: My recollection was that it was not supposed to be mere labeling. IIRC the only Legal US manufacturing was for military and LEO sales. I suspect the labeling was imported magazines, and somewhere in the distribution chain they made a right turn when they were supposed to go left.
Anything manufactured pre-ban was legal for sale anytime (state laws permitting) even post ban.

Posted by: Jhn1 at January 9, 2011 10:46 PM

It was just labelling- standard-capacity magazines manufactured during the ban were stamped 'LEO USE ONLY' or something very similar.

Restricted-capacity magazines had a block in them. In many designs, you could take it out if you were willing to risk prison if you got caught with them.

Posted by: rosignol at January 10, 2011 04:12 AM

Gun control laws are based on the premise that the actions of the guilty justify punishing the innocent -- that if one man uses a gun to commit a crime, all other men should be punished by prohibiting them from merely owning a gun.

Punishing the innocent for the acts of the guilty is the very definition of injustice -- and nothing can justify an injustice. Such is the nature of gun control laws -- and such is the nature of those who lust for more and more of them.

Posted by: Michael Smith at January 10, 2011 07:49 AM

What they're also trying to obfuscate was that, according to the sheriff in the news yesterday, he actually reloaded but the second mag jammed.

So in other words, if he had 15 rd mags he could have reloaded (as he did) and they probably would have worked properly and he would have been able to fire more shots. It takes no more than a couple seconds to reload if you practice and don't mind dropping your empty mags on the ground.

Instead, he went all mall ninja and got a crappy mag that didn't work properly.

I've only purchased one aftermarket high cap mag (a 10rd mag for my Remington 742) and it didn't work.
I don't buy them anymore because I like my guns to fire not jam.

Posted by: Veeshir at January 10, 2011 10:36 AM

"O.M.G. ... take a look at the mutt (Justin Elliott)"

I just did. He appears to be a young, balding man with a trim beard. Not unlike the waiter at a restaurant I ate at last night. Not terribly interesting, much less dramatic.

I must be missing something.

Excellent post, btw.

Posted by: Eric Scheie at January 10, 2011 01:20 PM

As if there is such a thing a reliable global statistics on anything. You really think missing peasants in God-forsaken third-world countries count as "murders"? If you live in a country that actually reports all its murders, the numbers look a lot different.

Posted by: Professor Hale at January 10, 2011 04:48 PM

I've always hated bullies. People that can ignore facts and want to control the lives of others while carelessly throwing around blame are disgusting.

They must never be allowed to make the rules for a free people.

Posted by: ken anthony at January 13, 2011 04:27 AM