Firearms enthusiasts and at least one law enforcement support group have unloaded on USA Today for asserting that the reason fewer people were killed last week at Santa Fe High School in Texas is because the guns used by the accused killer were “less lethal.”
Blue Lives Matter has posted a bristling critique, and social media has seen some negative remarks about the story.
The suspect in this case, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, allegedly used a shotgun and .38-caliber revolver to kill ten people and wound ten more in his shooting rampage. But USA Today reported that “Many of the deadliest mass shootings in recent years involved high-powered rifles, notably AR-15 styled rifles.” While the AR15 has a high rate of fire, it is not necessarily a “high-powered rifle.” It is far less powerful than a .30-06, which is used by many American outdoorsmen and women to hunt elk, deer and other game animals.
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And when it comes to being off base, the newspaper also contended, “Other shootings, including the deadly attack at Virginia Tech included less lethal weapons. Student Seung-Hui Cho used two pistols to kill 32 people in 2007.”
How the Virginia Tech slaughter could be attributed to “less lethal” pistols when the body count was higher than Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School or Santa Fe is perplexing to many gun enthusiasts, including some who have responded to the USA Today story.
A man from Arizona wrote: “A shotgun and a .38 are less lethal? Try telling that to the deceased victims’ families.”
Another reader, from Rhode Island put it bluntly, “The dead won’t consider them less lethal.”
And a reader at Michigan State University demanded, “What kind of trash journalism is this?? 10 people were killed, and you’re trying to support a claim that the weapons were ‘less lethal?’ Are you out of your mind?! What is the purpose of this ridiculous article?”
The story acknowledged that Washington Navy Yard killer Aaron Alexis used a shotgun to kill a dozen people in 2013, but still intimated that this was somehow less lethal than a semi-auto small-caliber rifle.
Meanwhile, a national gun rights organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, called on gun prohibition lobbying groups to explain why they never seem to blame the perpetrators in these mass shootings, but immediately point fingers at the firearms industry, National Rifle Association, gun owners in general of the Second Amendment.
“When was the last time either of these groups demanded swift justice and certainty of punishment for the actual perpetrators,” asked CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb.
By diverting public attention away from killers and toward law-abiding citizens who had nothing to do with the crime, Gottlieb suggested in a statement to the press, “these lobbying groups have created a very strong impression that they’re not really interested in punishing criminals, but only in penalizing honest firearms owners for crimes they didn’t commit.”