I understand reporters often work on a wide variety of topics and therefore cannot be an expert on each one, but when it comes to firearms it seems like many reporters do not even know anyone who knows anything about guns and gun safety. They seem to have sources in every nook and cranny of every business and government office in the nation, but somehow know not one human being that can do a sanity check on simple, basic facts. I have been training adults and kids on firearm safety for 20 years now, and while novices do not know much about guns they do ask a lot of questions. I wish reporters would start doing the same.
Case in point: As Robert VerBruggen pointed out in his post today, Fortune’s Katherine Eban wrote in her piece about “20 ‘cop killer’ 9 mm. pistols.” Simply put, this is impossible. For now I will focus on the most basic facts and not delve into the vague and misleading “cop killer” tag as well as leave the Fast and Furious details to those like Robert who are experts on the issue. So-called “cop killer” status does not have much to do with the gun; it turns on the ammunition (and if my ballistic memory serves correctly, most body armor used by cops won’t do much good against rifle ammunition). 9mm pistols can take conventional cartridges as well as specialty ones: So it is the ammunition that, in a reporter’s mind, makes it a “cop killer” as opposed to the gun itself. The only handgun I know of that takes just one kind of cartridge which could be considered a “cop killer” by the media would be FN’s 5.7. Since nearly every other handgun can handle different types of cartridges it would be confusing, counterintuitive, and erroneous to label a gun a “cop killer” as opposed to the specialty ammunition, regardless of the model and caliber.
Writing about 9mm “cop killer” guns is just sloppy, and undermines the reliability of the rest of the reporting. It’s as if Fortune had written a story about an auto-theft ring that used the phrase “Ford F-150 sedans.” After laughing and shaking your head in amazement about such an impossibility, would you bother reading the rest of the article written by someone who wasn’t able to get the basic facts down?