News of mass shootings and terrorist attacks follow an almost typical pattern. As soon as the shock and horror begin to fade, the debate about means and motive take center stage. Those conversations, as they have in the case of the shooting at the GOP baseball practice early Wednesday morning, almost always include conversation about the AR-15. Not this time.
Actually, most media outlets are still reporting that James Hodgkinson used an AR-15 in the attack. This is the poster-gun, if you will, of the Democratic push for gun control. There’s only one problem. Hodgkinson didn’t use an AR-15.
Did I say one problem? There are clearly many problems that will come to light as we dig deeper into Hodgkinson’s past, but the democrat who worked for the Bernie Sanders campaign doesn’t fit the active-shooter-cliche.
The gun, if we are to believe CNN, was actually an SKS. This early predecessor to the AK-47 was built in Russia as World War II came to a close. It shoots a 7.62×39 cartridge, the same round that defined the iconic Kalashnikov rifles that would follow it.
There were millions of them made in Russia, and then later in China and other communist countries. These rifles are known for their unfailing ability to cycle ammunition, and can be easily customized. They are also readily available and cheap. As they’re heavy, long, and not as easily reloaded as some modern semiautomatic rifles, they are only really prized by collectors and survivalists.
While this technicality may be trivial to most, it will serve as an important element in this discussion. The early reports from witnesses described a shotgun. Others said it was an M1A (another mid-century design, one that fires a much heavier .308 round). Later, a witness who worked at the YMCA nearby told FOX that the shooter had a Kalashnikov, and that was spun into a rumor that he was using an AK-47.
If the rifle he’d used had been an AK-47, or an AR-15 (both are exceptionally hard to come by in his native state of Illinois), the push against so-called “assault weapons” would have more ammunition.
Regardless, the Democrats are rightfully disavowing themselves from this incident. The Republican majority seems confident in the necessity of the Second Amendment. As not one of the politicians or aides present at the shooting this morning was armed, it was entirely up to the security detail that travels with Congressman Scalise to take the shooter down.
The shooter, even with his antique rifle, could have done a lot more damage if there wasn’t a few good people with guns ready and willing to respond.
Here’s the video of the witness, Owen Britton, setting the record straight on the gun conversation.