As the aftermath of the school shooting erupts into a furious debate about firearms and politics, some basic facts are being distorted. That’s to be expected. The spin, though, often gives way to abject absurdity, as it has in this simple declarative statement from Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “A handgun wound is simply a stabbing with a bullet.”
"A handgun [wound] is simply a stabbing with a bullet. It goes in like a nail." With the high-velocity rounds of the AR-15, "it’s as if you shot somebody with a Coke can." https://t.co/xkyw3pEtjn #BanAssaultWeapons
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) February 26, 2018
Feinstein, 84, knows very little about firearms. Now, it seems, she’s demonstrating an equally deficient understanding of terminal ballistics. That wouldn’t be so dangerous, except the California Democrat has a cadre of loyal followers who accept everything she says.
Let’s dwell a minute, though, on the statement. “A handgun wound is simply a stabbing with a bullet.”
Some politicians hope their constituency believes that becasue a person in power says something, it becomes true. In this case, though, Feinstein seems to be quoting someone who is an expert in cleaning up the mess. The quote comes from an article in Rolling Stone in which a trauma surgeon talks about wounds .
Yet the logical fallacy still exists in the original article. Not all handgun calibers are the same. A .22 rimfire is more akin to a nail than a .44 Magnum. And bullets have unique shapes, material construction, and terminal performance.
What is articulated by the article is the damaging results of hydrostatic shock (as seen above–from a handgun round). Bullets traveling over the speed of sound, from a pistol or a rifle, will create a shock-wave through soft tissue that creates internal bleeding. This can be deadly.
Many handguns are capable of creating these wounds. The common 9mm, the .40 ACP, the .357 Magnum… it is a reasonably long list. The guns are effective at eliminating threats, which is why every cop and every sheriff deputy has one on their hip (and a second hidden out of sight).
Here’s the complicated truth. Rifles are deadly. Pistols and shotguns are deadly. Knives are, too. Rifle rounds can pass through soft tissue, leaving wounds that are more easily treated. A hollow-point fired from a pistol can mushroom and dump all of its energy into the victim and create irreparable damage.
Are rifles more effective? Of course. When shots are placed well. That doesn’t mean that a cop, teacher, soldier, or civilian with a pistol can’t take down someone with a rifle, as some media outlets would have you believe.
Lawrence: A bullet fired from an AR-15 travels 3x faster than one from a handgun.
And yet the president and the NRA think giving teachers guns will stop a school shooter https://t.co/heze69kRDU
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 23, 2018
Anchor Lawrence O’Donnell said on his show that “a bullet fired from an AR-15 travels 3x faster than one from a handgun…and yet the president and the NRA think giving teachers guns will stop a school shooter.”
Is he suggesting that both shooters will fire bullets at each other, at exactly the same time, and that the speed of the 5.56 bullet will win the day? Is there any other way to read this?
Townhall, addressing this idiocy, asked a rhetorical question: “didn’t two Capitol Police officers stop a shooter from assassinating scores of Republicans in Alexandria as they were practicing for the annual congressional baseball game? Uh, yeah—they did. They confronted the shooter, they engaged him; he turned out to be a Bernie Sanders supporter, and they neutralized the threat. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was almost killed in the attack.”
The Police officers had handguns. The shooter had a rifle. We all remember how it ended.
In the end, there is only one way to die: a lack of oxygenated blood to the brain. How that end is achieved varies. In 2016, 1,604 Americans were murdered with knives. That seems remarkable when you consider that only 374 were killed with rifles.
Rather than look at this logically, though, and take a meaningful introspective look at how we handle mental health or the cultural influence of gratuitous violence in the entertainment industry, we should blame the AR-15. It is so much easier.