Anatomy of a Mass Murder: a Crib Sheet for the Press

Let me start with a completely unfair statement.  Coverage of mass shooting events could and should be much more insightful, factual and analytical.  It is unfair because I cannot be aware of all or most reporting.  Even so, my opinion about coverage is probably fair in the context of what most news consumers see, hear, and read.

First, there appears to be little understanding of weapons; in the alternative there may be the assumption that technical details would detract from reporting.  Second there appears to be little understanding of police training, weaponry, equipment, and tactics.  Third, timelines are rarely presented to the public, even when they are important.

I am not well qualified to address these problems, but am better qualified than the media folks talking to me.  I grew up shooting and used an M-16 as a combat infantryman in Vietnam; since then I have not touched a firearm.

The moment I heard the firing on the videos from Las Vegas, I knew that the weapons could not have been variants of M-16s, AK-47s, or Uzi-type machine pistols.  The rates of fire were too slow.  I suspected grandfathered Browning Automatic Rifles or similar artifacts; the most common World War II BAR variants had slowish rates of fire.  Had I been aware of bump-stocks, I should have considered them likely.  Media outlets should have had experts that could tell them about rates of fire and they should have detailed technicians to slow the tapes and calculate precise rates of…

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