America’s Obsession with Powerful Handguns Is Giving Criminals Deadlier Tools. That’s the headline above a post by Alex Yablon at thetrace.org. The article implies that if you own a “powerful handgun” you bear responsibility for criminal access and misuse of these “powerful handguns.” As opposed to less powerful handguns. Like, say, a .22 caliber pistol.
Wait! The Trace’s own graphic shows .22’s at the top of the ATF’s hit parade! And what’s up with .380’s outpacing monstrous, soul-destroying .45’s? At the same time, I’d like to make the connection between the prevalence of .40 caliber “crime guns” and the fact “fo-tays” are popularized by rappers — and the police. And while we’re at it, a 12-guage shotgun may not be a “large caliber weapon” but it’s plenty lethal. Speaking of lethality, here’s Mr. Yablon’s take . . .
All bullets have the potential to kill if they hit someone in the head, puncture a vital organ, or rip open an artery. But forensic experts say larger rounds often wreak greater havoc on human bodies. “A bigger, faster bullet penetrates further and is more likely to cause a fatal wound,” says James Gannalo, a forensic firearms consultant and former New York Police Department detective.
Peter Rhee, a former military surgeon who operated on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords after she was shot in the head with a 9mm piston in 2011, puts it this way: “A .22 will kill you, but it won’t blow your head apart.” With a higher caliber handgun, he says, “you will make bigger holes.” . . .
When bullets make impact, they flatten out. Bigger bullets have a greater diameter — a .40 caliber, for example, is about a quarter of an inch wider than a .22. That small difference could determine whether someone lives or dies, says Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital . . .
It’s not just the size of the rounds that make .40-caliber pistols deadlier than smaller models — it’s that these guns are often equipped to carry more of them. Standard magazines for 9mm, .40-, and .45-caliber pistols often hold 10 or even 20 rounds.
When semiautomatic pistols can fire more bullets — because they’re equipped with large magazines — the chances that one or more bullets find the mark go up. “What I keep explaining to people is what’s important is the number of rounds on target,” says Rhee.
FYI Ms. Gifford was shot in the head — wait for it — once. And, as commentator Sam I Am points out below, Peter Rhee is saying that a .22 is just as lethal as a 9mm — only the victim’s head will be prettier in the morgue.
According to a 2014 Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania study, the survivability rate for gunshot wounds is around 80 percent. A fact that doesn’t see the light of day in Mr. Yablon’s piece, which highlights studies showing increased firearms-related lethality in cities where the gang bangers shoot each other with alarming regularity. And why is that?
There is some evidence to suggest that criminal shootings have become deadlier, a trend that some experts attribute to the increased caliber and magazine capacities of guns finding their way to the illicit market. A June 2016 study of 29,000 patients at the Denver Medical Center from 2000 to 2013 found that the number people admitted to the emergency room for gunshots who died from their wounds increased by six percent every two years.
Experts might also attribute some part of the increased lethality of gunshot wounds to natural selection. Gang bangers who are more accurate with their heaters live longer and shoot more people more effectively, reducing the number of less effective shooters. Making the remaining shooting population more lethal — despite increases in ER technology, efficiency and experience.
Anyway, what’s any of this got to do with legal gun owners? Shouldn’t we, the good guys, be welcoming an increase in guns with greater “stopping power”? We are! We’re buying better guns, like the new generation of pocket nines. A trend that pleases Mr. Yablon and his fellow “guys safety” advocates no end [/sarc].
One perhaps inevitable outcome of the flood of powerful handguns flowing into civilian hands is that they are showing up in sharply higher numbers at crime scenes, leading to rising fears that lethality rates — the percentage of people who die when they are shot — may be going up.
Perhaps inevitable? Rising fears about lethality rates? May be going up? As Carlos Santana sang, dance sister, dance. Dance around the fact that legal gun owners bear no responsibility for what firearms-wielding criminals use to commit illegal acts.