After the Congress shooting on Wednesday, Free Market Shooter published an article referring to the weapon being used in the attack as an AR-15 variant which would have been chambered in .223/5.56mm ammunition:
Though it has not been confirmed as of the time of this article’s publication, according to CBS, the shooter appears to have used a rifle “similar to an M4”. However, The Truth About Guns provided a disclaimer when citing the information:
Always remember: mainstream media sources are notoriously bad at getting facts about firearms right, so take the above with a grain of salt.
With that in mind, we can state with reasonable accuracy that the shooter used an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle chambered in .223/5.56mm. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) shared specifics on the shooter’s engagement distance with his victims:
Clearly, I should have paid attention to my own disclaimer, as I was forced to update this article the following day:
Update: The rifle was confirmed by the ATF as being an SKS 7.62, which is almost certainly the 7.62x39mm version. As The Truth About Guns stated, this is why you always take mainstream media sources with a grain of salt. We should already know that, right?
Even after it was established that the rifle in question was an SKS chambered in 7.62x39mm, it did not stop CNN from publishing false information about the weapon:
Why, indeed? Curiously, Darcy seemed uninterested in CNN’s inability to correct its own false reporting on the Alexandria shooting. CNN falsely reported early Thursday morning that the rifle used by the Alexandria shooter, an SKS chambered in 7.62×39, was “a Chinese-made AK variant.” This is demonstrably false, and it’s an error with significant implications given U.S. gun laws.
In the U.S., fully automatic rifles like the AK-47 are heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and require a hefty tax, a lengthy waiting period, and an extensive background check that includes photos and fingerprints. The SKS, a Soviet rifle developed and issued several years before Kalashnikov designed his AK-47, is not fully automatic. It is a semi-automatic weapon that contrasts sharply, both in form and function, with the AK-47. And even if the two firearms were functionally similar (they’re not), it would be impossible for the SKS to be a variant of the AK-47 seeing as how it was developed years before the AK-47.
Even after being alerted to its improper reporting, CNN still did not correct the article:
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) June 15, 2017
Eventually, CNN issued a correction, but not until hours after the below Twitter exchange between The Federalist’s Sean Davis and CNN’s Oliver Darcy, where Darcy mocked Davis for bringing the errors to CNN’s attention:
not playing your game man. but have fun!
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 15, 2017
CNN was hardly the only news outlet to screw this up; as Mediaite reported, The Chicago Tribune referred to the SKS as an “assault rifle”, and Breitbart referenced this in their own report, despite this being obviously false information:
A Wednesday article from the Chicago Tribune noted that the deceased gunman, James Hodgkinson, “had purchased at least three guns, all from a local gun dealer, and had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, a source said. Among those three guns was an SKS assault rifle, the source said.”
Trump-supporting website Breitbart referenced Tribune‘s reporting in a Wednesday write-up, including the “SKS assault rifle” phrase.
It should be pointed out, however, that the SKS is neither a “AK variant,” nor is it an “assault rifle.” The semi-automatic firearm, which was originally issued by the Soviet Union, actually predates the world-famous AK-47 (which is a select-fire assault rifle). It was among the first weapons to adopt the 7.62x39mm round, which was later used by the AK.
The SKS was also not classified as an “assault weapon” under the now-expired 1994 Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act. Nearly twenty years later, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein didn’t include the firearm in her list of “assault weapons” that would be banned under a gun control bill she proposed in 2013.
Clearly, I should have taken my own advice and waited until the facts were confirmed, rather than rely on mainstream media reports on the firearms used. However, I wasn’t even alone in following the MSM’s false reporting leads; Breitbart fell for the Chicago Tribune’s false reporting just as hard as I fell for CBS’s false reporting.
All of us should have known better than to trust the mainstream media, considering all the false reporting they participate in. Regardless, mainstream media reporting about firearm specifics in particular needs to be taken with an extreme grain of salt, as they have an atrociously inaccurate record when it comes to reporting on firearms and gun violence.
Don’t you worry though; like so many in government, mainstream media is already blaming the NRA and gun owners for this shooting, ignoring the obvious fact that this lunatic was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode… whether he used a gun or not.