- CAPITOL HILL, DC (CNSNews.com)
- Over the weekend, police linked another shooting to the gunman who killed
six people last week in the Washington, D.C., area.
- Police say a woman shot and seriously wounded on Friday
in Fredericksburg, Va., was struck by a bullet from the same gun used to
kill an elderly man Thursday night in Washington, D.C.; and five people
on Wednesday and Thursday in the Washington suburb of Montgomery County,
Md. (Fredericksburg is about 70 miles away from the general area of the
- As police continue their search for one or two suspects
in the shootings of those seven people -- six of whom died -- local, state,
and federal authorities have been releasing information to the media to
encourage public assistance with finding the shooters.
- But firearms experts said Friday that at least some of
that information has been conveyed in a less than accurate manner.
- During an early morning press conference on Friday, Montgomery
County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose described the type of weapon investigators
believe was used to commit the murders.
- "We're willing, at this point, and able to say that
from a 90-percent accuracy, we're dealing with a high-speed-velocity round
from an assault or a hunting-type weapon," he said. "We're dealing
with someone shooting from a distance, someone using a high-velocity round,
90 percent sure that it is a .223 round from a rifle, a hunting rifle,
an assault rifle."
- Authorities have confirmed that only one shot was fired,
striking and killing six of the victims. That fact, and the use of the
term "assault rifle," caught the attention of James Chambers,
executive director of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute
- "An assault weapon is a machine gun -- that [means]
fully-automatic, and that is a military firearm," he said, explaining
that assault rifles, by definition, fire multiple bullets with each pull
of the trigger.
- Following Moose's comments, CNN Anchor Carol Costello
on Friday summarized what officials had reported.
- "Five people, all apparently unrelated, random victims,
were shot dead by the same gun, according to the chief," she said.
"It was a high-powered assault hunting-type weapon with a .223 round."
- Chambers said the weapon Costello described doesn't exist.
- "That is not an accurate statement. The .223 is
a small game cartridge used for small game and varmint hunting. It is about
half as powerful as the .30-06 or .308 caliber, which are the big game
rifles for deer, elk, antelope, etcetera," he explained. "The
.223 is not classified as a high-powered cartridge."
- Later Friday morning, Moose called another press conference,
intended to eliminate some of the confusion caused by the reporting of
- "When we passed out some information, when we talked
about rounds, when we talked about weapons, maybe we created some confusion
and so, at the advice of ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms)
we want to take a few moments to, maybe, clarify some of that information,"
- The chief introduced Joseph Riehl, assistant special
agent in charge of the Baltimore ATF office, who, along with a team of
ATF firearms examiners, he described as "experts in this area."
- Riehl displayed four rifles and four cartridges similar
to the type believe to have been used by the murderer. He was careful to
categorize the weapons and ammunition as "samples."
- "We have laid out four samples of ammunition that
are possibly used in these shootings. In addition, there are four firearms
that are consistent, that are able, again, just samples, that are able
to accept these particular rounds of ammunition," he explained. "This
is not all of the firearms; there's a list of forearms that would accept
these rounds of ammunition. It is too great a list to lay everything out."
- At the urging of a reporter, Riehl picked up a Colt AR-15,
which he properly identified as a semi-automatic rifle, and held it as
he answered questions. He then lifted a bolt-action .223 caliber rifle
and compared it to the AR-15.
- "This is actually just a bolt-action rifle. This
particular weapon could be used for target shooting, possibly hunting and
it would not be considered the same as you would some of the other assault
weapons," he said, gesturing to the semi-automatic AR-15.
- Again, Chambers said the terminology used is simply wrong.
- "They're classifying the civilian version of the
military M-16, which is the AR-15, as an assault weapon, which is bogus,"
he said. "The AR-15 is not an assault weapon; it's a semi-automatic
or auto-loading firearm ... one bullet per trigger pull."
- The press conference apparently did not clear up the
misconceptions. Friday afternoon, MSNBC reporter Jennifer Johnson described
the weapon with similarly inaccurate terminology.
- "The shooter used a high-powered assault weapon
or some kind of high powered hunting rifle in all of the cases," she
- Chambers noted the insistence of the establishment media
personalities that the firearm used in the murders was an "assault
- 'Media definition'
- "The 'assault' term is a media definition for any
firearm with certain appendages on it. Our definition, and the military
definition of an 'assault weapon' is a fully automatic weapon," he
- The .223 cartridge, he continued, is accurately referred
to as a "high-velocity" round, because the bullet travels at
between 3000 and 3200 feet per second, depending on the weapon from which
it is fired and the amount and type of powder loaded into the shell casing.
- The bullet is deadly, he added, not because it is fired
from a so-called "assault weapon," but because of its accuracy
and the characteristics of the wound it creates.
- "It is a very accurate round when used by someone
with a great deal of experience. You can make very accurate shots from
fairly long ranges, out to 500 yards," he said. "That particular
bullet when it hits has a tendency as it enters to do some tumbling or
rolling, which creates a great deal of [damage]."
- Gun industry representatives, who spoke with CNSNews.com
on condition of anonymity, said they believe the law enforcement officials
who used the incorrect terminology probably did so under the stress of
the investigation and the media scrutiny, not in an attempt to intentionally
mislead the public.
- They were not, however, so forgiving of the establishment
media. One such representative said the misuse of the terms "assault
weapon" and "high-powered" was "part of an intentional
effort to scare people, to make the public afraid of guns."
- Inaccurate reporting on firearms issues by the so-called
"mainstream" media is something Chambers said he simply expects.
- "How the media is reporting this does not surprise
me in the least," he said. "I have seen this over, and over and
over again, and I don't expect any changes in the near future."