CBS on the AR-15… This Should Be Good…

Image from "Huge Guns" by Smosh & Freddie Wong

What makes the AR-15 style rifle the weapon of choice for mass shooters?

60 Minutes Correspondent, Scott Pelley over at CBS has assembled the linked special to once again malign the most popular rifle in the United States. Every time I open one of these articles I have hope. I want it be filled with an unbiased, or at the least a fair minded while ignorant, look at the topic. I can respect a difference of opinion, I cannot respect willful ignorance or misrepresentation and misinformation.

This article is filled with the latter, not the former.

Some of the worst massacres in recent memory have had something in common: the AR-15 style rifle. Scott Pelley reports on why the high-velocity rounds used in the gun makes it so deadly.

The mass shooting this past April at a California synagogue has something in common with the deadliest massacres: the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Variations of the AR-15 were used to kill at two New Zealand mosques, a Pittsburgh synagogue, Texas church, a Las Vegas concert, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and Sandy Hook Elementary School. The AR-15 style rifle is the most popular rifle in America. There are well over 11 million and they are rarely used in crime. Handguns kill far more people.   But as we first reported last November, the AR-15 is the choice of our worst mass murderers. AR-15 ammunition travels three times the speed of sound. And tonight we’re going to slow that down, so you can see why the AR-15’s high velocity ammo is the fear of every American emergency room. – CBS

Opening by conveniently leaving out the recent shootings that involved handguns (Virginia Beach, STEM in Colorado). CBS highlights the lethality of the target of their ire and states that ERs across the nation fear the AR-15 and its high velocity ammunition. While mass casualty is among the fears of most emergency rooms and trauma centers, I can’t see it being their ultimate fear just because the method of injury was gunshot wound.

ER Numbers

Check this out here, the unintentional vs. intentional injury rate nationwide for ERs. Unintentional rate of 904.6/10,000. The intentional rate, includes both self-inflicted and assaults, is only 66/10,000. I don’t think rifle GSWs specifically occupy most of their thoughts.

I’m not going to disparage the nature of a rifle wound. A rifle and shotgun (with slug or buckshot) are both far more injurious than a handgun round.

It’s the way CBS writes it, singling out .223 Rem/5.56x45mm as some sort devastatingly unique murder bullet and then using the foil for their comparison as 9mm.

Not other rifle ammo like 30-30 or 30.06… 9mm.


CBS gives a quick nod in the first paragraph to the facts that handguns are used in far more violence and that rifles and firearms in general are largely used by the law abiding… they then spend the rest of their time with you attempting to make you forget those facts.

They flow into the anecdotes of responders to these horrific crimes. Every single one reads the same, “The most horrific scene I’ve seen in my XX years in Law Enforcement/EMS.” Yes, I believe you. A massacre on this scale is a high damage/low probability event and when they happen the results are devastating, shocking, and heart wrenching.

CBS mentions Sutherland Springs, Texas. They don’t mention that a citizen, Stephen Williford, armed with the same rifle they are maligning and those very same ultra deadly murder bullets (5.56) was the one who engaged and stopped Devin Kelley.

Kelley should have been unable to purchase the rifle under Federal law but the DoD failed in their record keeping.

And then… it’s time for the Gel Test.

Gel Test of Terror!

Cynthia Bir with correspondent Scott Pelley. Image from the CBS article.

Cynthia Bir (pictured above) shows CBS a standard ballistics gel test. But again, they use 9mm as the baseline for the test. They are then shocked that two rounds designed to perform two different ways are doing just that. I’m afraid to ask them to fire a 30.06 into ballistic tissue simulant… what shock and horror would the folks have to confront when a moderately powered rifle cartridge is compared to a full power rifle cartridge so very commonly used for hunting and over a century old.

They point to the fact that the base heavy 5.56, at its naturally higher velocity, tumbles and depending on the bullet make up will fragment. Where the much slower 9mm, whose velocity they list at 800 miles per hour, instead of the standard feet per second format for some reason, expands when the bullet is designed to do just that.

I can fathom two reasons for the use of mph. I suspect it’s both.

Reason 1. Miles Per Hour/MPH is a more widely understood measure of velocity since we use mph in our vehicles. A 9mm therefore goes 12-15 times as fast as a car on the highway when it leaves the gun. This conceptually makes sense to people as ” very fast.”

Reason 2. We associate high mph speeds with danger because of vehicles. This makes saying the 9mm goes 800 mph far scarier than saying it goes 1,050 feet per second (fps). They then omit listing the rifle velocity in miles per hour (~2100mph by the way. The F22 Raptor, an air superiority fighter, has a max speed of 1,498 mph, highlighting the absurdity of using mph format for ammunition.)

Look at how bad gunshot wounds are!

After highlighting the well acknowledged fact that rifle wounds are worse than handgun wounds… because, you know, physics… They go over more anecdotes of the various wounds caused in some of the AR-15 involved shootings, highlighting the specific damage caused to the organs, muscles, and bones of the wounded and dead.

Not once do they compare it to another rifle round. In fact they largely stop the comparison to the 9mm at this point, having gotten their 800 mph point made. They just go over how bad gunshot wounds are… over and over and over. No comparison, no contrast against a standard, just gunshot wounds from an AR are bad.

Yes. They are. So are the rest of gunshot wounds.

Mandalay Bay

Las Vegas is their next argument by rolling in just how fast an AR can shoot. Well…

Again, the fact that the bumpstock shifted casualties into the wounded category more than the dead won’t be publicized as it doesn’t work for the goal of maligning the AR. Again, the fact that the physical location of the attack and crowd situation contributed drastically to the casualty figure, far more than just the rifle or magazines cannot be publicized as it shifts blame away from the rifle. A bolt action rifle would have been devastating. An IED would have. A Nice, France style drive through attack would have been incredibly lethal in that crowd.

Our obsession with “method” over general means and motive is perpetually aggravating…

It’s that darn high speed ammo…

The response has been is a rehash of emergency response procedures… in many cases late and reactionary instead of proactively. I’ve spoken with LEO and EMS folk who have been trying to get their emergency medicine and response on the levels that have so drastically improved casualty care from GWOT into the civilian side, they’ve been fighting that battle for years. They are met with institutional lethargy, indifference, and a general wish that it just won’t happen to them.

Departments and services that are keeping up on casualty care are what we need! This shouldn’t be a shock to us it should be our demand and expectation for our first responders.

CBS manages to turn this point to read as something shameful. “We shouldn’t need this.” is the vibe the piece portrays.

I wish we didn’t need it. I do.

But we do. The horror glorification the mass media has managed to engender in our 24hr coverage of these are events that will be well publicized and give the deranged among the population the opportunity for a stage. Want proof? New Zealand. And the government did a lot of what the shooter wanted.

We didn’t kick off the deranged race war he wanted when gun control got brought up but we certainly brought up gun control worldwide.

Today, all Americans are being asked to prepare for the grievous wounds of high-velocity rounds. The CBS piece concludes.

Americans are also being asked to prepare for heart disease, diabetes, house fires, power outages, natural disasters, and identity theft.

So why is the AR-15 “the choice” for mass shooters?


  1. Cheap.
  2. Available

The reason handguns dominate in other criminal violence is concealability, a factor a mass casualty attack isn’t concerned with. Yet handguns are still common there too.

The question CBS implies they ask is “How are we learning to respond to mass casualty attacks?” Instead they produced a low information slam piece on the AR-15 to continue the “black gun scary” narrative.

Swing and a miss.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.