The impressive wound ballistics of the AR-15 are not accidental. The thing was designed to do what it does. A .223 round impacts with such velocity that it generates an explosive shock wave inside the target. Also, the bullet will tumble, enhancing its destructive properties. Don’t let anyone fool you. We may not be able to settle on a decisive characterization of an “assault rifle,” but an AR chambered for a .223 round will make a mess of a human body – exactly as it was designed to do. And it will do so thirty, fifty, or many more rounds in short order, depending on how fast the lunatic on the other end can pull the trigger and swap out his mags. The industry’s characterization of this type of weapon as a “modern sporting rifle” is an obscenity.
Fortunately for the college at which he went berserk, my son’s killer was financially constrained. Furthermore, he was a novice, having never fired a gun before he went on his campus shooting spree. He settled on a used SKS, a cheap carbine that fired the lower-velocity 7.62 x 39 mm round. He purchased a pistol grip and plastic folding stock to replace the original wooden one, a conversion kit to allow the SKS to accept 30-round magazines, six of those magazines, and 180 rounds of ammunition. The aforementioned financial constraints led him to purchase inexpensive full metal jacket bullets. Because they are jacketed the projectiles tend to go through a body rather than disintegrating as a hollow point bullet might, or tumbling and generating a shock wave as the .223 round does. The killer’s chest shot shattered my son’s sternum, passed into his chest cavity, severed blood vessels, passed through a lung, severed the trachea, passed through the 7th rib and exited the back. He died on his college library floor, bullets zinging past, friends and classmates freaking out watching one of their own strangle and bleed to death. After he’d killed two people and wounded four, the wannabe psycho killer’s gun jammed – the magazine wasn’t seating properly – and he didn’t know how to clear it. This saved many lives.
When such a thing happens to your son or daughter you don’t experience it as a chapter from a wound ballistics textbook. It is the most painful, calamitous, life-changing event imaginable.
If you manage to not kill yourself or someone else, as I just barely managed not to do, and if you don’t go so crazy as to become completely dysfunctional, you might fall prey to the very reasonable delusion that, once people hear your story, once they learn how horrific and widely damaging gun murder is, they’ll be inspired to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else ever again.
This same delusion caused those Parkland teens to speak out as they have. The worst thing imaginable had just happened to them. Surely, once they let the world know about it, the world would rise as one and cry, “Enough!”
I love their ferocity and energy, but I worry about how those kids will be feeling years down the road, when the journalists have moved on to other stories, and they are left with only the horrific images of what happened, set against the backdrop of America’s vast, self-absorbed, indifference.
This is an excerpt from a longer piece entitled “Survivor Apocalypse.”