With the media getting all bent out of shape trying to whip up PSH over criminals armed with machine guns, I think it’s worthwhile to examine the tactical utility of a machine gun for a criminal or a nut job. If I had to go up against an armed attacker, here’s a list of weapons I would most not like him to have:
- Any center-fire rifle
- Machine gun
Why yes, machine gun is dead last. Let me explain. A hit from a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buck shot is roughly equivalent to getting hit with a 9 shots from a submachine gun. The shotgun, at the kinds of ranges you’d typically encounter in an active shooter situation, is the most deadly thing anyone can go up against.
I should also note that any center fire rifle, in the hands of someone carefully aiming his fire, is quite deadly. It doesn’t matter whether it’s semi-auto, bolt action, or lever action. If the other guy has a rifle, and I have a pistol, I’m going to run if I can.
Pistol on pistol, I feel pretty good that I can land shots at a distance greater than your average criminal or nut job, but chance are I’m going to be relying on his lack of marksmanship ability.
A machine gun, however, is just going to randomly spray bullets for a few seconds until the magazine runs dry. It’s not like in the movies where you can shoot forever and never reload. You have only a few seconds of ammunition, unless you’re using a belt fed machine gun. Once the criminal or nutjob shoots his wad, I have a prime opportunity to nail him as he’s reloading. Ever try to load an AK-47 or an submachine gun under stress? He’s bound to fumble, unless he’s very practiced. Machine guns are not very useful outside of military formations, where you have more than one person able to keep up a volume of suppressing fire. The only reasons a criminal would be attracted to one is as a status symbol. If he thinks it’s tactically useful, he’s a fool. Under most situations, they just aren’t all that useful compared to alternatives.
The media is hoping to not only capitalize on people’s confusion between semi-automatic and automatic, but also people’s impressions of what automatic weapons are capable of, that they get from the movies. The truth of the situation is, automatic weapons are not that particularly deadly in untrained hands, because it’s hard to hit anything on automatic fire with any accuracy. Trained people know to fire short bursts, to conserve ammo, and for accurate shot placement. But once you start doing that, the advantages of the machine gun vs. the shotgun start to disappear at the ranges civilians typically deal with.
In short, despite what the media tells you, all firearms are dangerous in the wrong hands. As CBS’s hysteria illustrates continues, it’s important that we are loud and vocal about debunking it.