6.18.2004

Critique of the local news

This article in The Birmingham News shows the disconnect between journalists and their subject matter, even here in Alabama.

It starts right from the first sentence.

The weapon used to kill three Birmingham police officers Thursday in Ensley was a powerful assault rifle originally used for military purposes
It's a 7.62 x 39mm, no it's not powerful. That's the whole point of a military round. The more powerful the round, the greater the recoil. The greater the recoil, the longer it takes to reaquire target for a follow up round. Quickly being able to put multiple rounds on target is a must in the military.

The SKS is a gas-powered, semi-automatic rifle that usually holds 10 rounds and was first used by the Soviet Union in the mid-1940s, according to www.hk94.com, an online resource for information about firearms. Semi-automatic means the weapon fires once with each pull of the trigger.
I'm going to give them BIG KUDOS here. The journalist, Amy Bartner, correctly defines simi-automatic. This is probably the first time I've actually seen it stated properly in the media. They usually really fuck that one up. However, what's up with the "gas-powered, semi-automatic". All semi-autos are gas-powered, at least I haven't ever heard of one that wasn't. I think it's supposed to sound menacing. All it means is that some of the high pressure gas from the ignition of the propellant in the bullet is redirected to cycle the bolt. As opposed to manually opening and closeing as you do in a bolt action or pump.

...although a hunter might purchase the 9-pound gun for hunting, it's not the weapon of choice.
I'm not sure why she stated the weight, assuming that is indeed the weight. Is it supposed to sound heavy? light? The SKS isn't particularly heavy, but it's not particularly reliable, accurate, or "powerful" either. Which is why it's not "the weapon of choice" for hunting.

"It's not normally a super-accurate gun," he said. "It would fall vaguely under the category of assault rifle."
I would put it less vaguely under the category of "plinker", but that's just me.

"It would probably shoot through two phone books," Lee said....
Two WHOLE phonebooks. /sarcasm. A .22LR will probably shoot through two phonebooks at close range. It's a meaningless statement.

"...It's a rifle I would hope I wouldn't have to face."
Is there one you would like to face? All guns can kill you. Be more worried about the guy pulling the trigger than what kind of gun he has. That circa 1750 black-powder rifle is more dangerous in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, than a tank in the hands of someone who doesn't.

Tarrant police use Army-donated vests that hold two ceramic plates, but George said even those vests might not withstand a blast from an SKS.
She doesn't state what the actual vests are so it's hard to be sure, but if a military vest can't stop a military round we got problems. Also, the use of the word "blast", is a little overly dramatic, IMNSHO.

Reinforced vests are more effective against such rifles, but are much too heavy to wear for extended periods, George said. He added that they also wouldn't be useful in a tactical situation because they restrict movement.
The military is doing it in Iraq, but whatever.

Terry Oglesby also touches on this topic over at Possumblog.

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