During the last two days of testimony in the trial of Major Nidal Hassan, there’s been a lot of talk about the Ft. Hood spree killer’s choice of weapon: the FN Five-SeveN. TTAG’s review of the oddly-calibered handgun appeared back in August. Two words that didn’t feature: high-tech. And yet that’s the buying criteria Hassan presented to the gun store that ultimately sold the Army shrink his murder weapon . . .
Fifteen days after Hasan reported to the Central Texas [gun range], former gun salesman Fredrick Brannon [says] the Army psychiatrist walked into the area’s largest gun store, Guns Galore . . .
He drew attention by asking which handgun in the store was ‘the most high-tech.’ The manager, after a little head scratching, came up with the FN 5.7 pistol.
An odd choice to be sure, what with its high price tag, high-priced ammo and uncertain stopping power. Still, there’s one born every minute. I mean, I’m glad there isn’t one born every minute. Anyway . . .
As you’d expect, the Dallas Morning News‘ coverage of the trial plays up the chilling aspect of Hassan’s firearms purchase and training. The article also repeats an oft-repeated misconception re: the 5.7 ammo’s lethality, spurred by The Brady Campaign’s campaign to ban the weapon’s importation from Belgium.
A firearms instructor recounted how Hasan practiced repeatedly at Stan’s Shooting Range east of Fort Hood last October. The instructor, John Choats, also testified that Hasan once sought help in long-distance shooting at targets shaped like human silhouettes . . .
Brannon testified that Hasan left that day, saying that he had to look up the weapon. The next day, Aug. 1, 2007, he bought the gun, an expensive laser sight, several magazine extenders and boxes of the armor-piercing ammo.
Who doesn’t shoot at human-shaped silhouettes? And sales of higher velocity (i.e. “armor piercing”) 5.7mm ammo are restricted to law enforcement. In fact, it’s probably a good thing that Hassan bought the FN Five-SeveN as opposed to a higher caliber handgun. The 5.7 ammo is best used at close quarters, given the projectile’s small size and low weight. It’s as easy to shoot as a .22—with marginally better results.
The media has been highlighting the Five-SeveN’s large magazine capacity (extended to 30 rounds by an aftermarket mag) and the fact that Hassan had 200 unused rounds when his spree ended. But Hassan’s “kill ratio” was fairly low. The Muslim madman (there goes my NPR gig) left thirteen people dead after 150 rounds (wounding 30).