Taxpayer-Supported NPR Makes Absurd Gun Claim: 'They Can Decapitate a Person'


The AR-15 is a gun imbued by the media with almost mystically evil properties — and it’s never so evil as it is after any mass shooting.

It’s a “weapon of war.” It “turn[s] people to dust.” It’s easier to buy than “a glass of beer.” And now, it apparently decapitates and dismembers people.

That’s the claim being put forth by NPR — our national radio broadcaster, partially supported by taxpayer dollars.

In a piece addressing the horrors of the crime scene at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, after a mass shooter killed 21 innocent people last week, the broadcaster said bullets from AR-15-style rifles move which such velocity that “they can decapitate a person.”

Experts, meanwhile, are calling this claim — among other things — “bulls***.”

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(This is hardly the only preposterous lie put forth about firearms by the mainstream media in the wake of recent mass shootings. Now, President Joe Biden has made it clear he’s coming after so-called “assault weapons” — and few of his enablers on network news are going to bring you the truth. Here at The Western Journal, we’ll continue to expose the falsehoods put forth by gun-grabbers in their attempt to chip away at your Second Amendment rights. You can help by subscribing.)

The story is indeed a depressing one, focusing on the justice of the peace in Uvalde, Texas, who also acts as the town’s “de facto coroner.”

In the Tuesday piece, Eulalio “Lalo” Diaz, Jr. said that it was “something you never want to see and it’s something you don’t, you cannot, prepare for.”

“For two hours, I sat there, preparing myself and getting ready for the scene we’re about to see … because you know it’s going to be a tough scene,” Diaz said.

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However, he made it clear that he wouldn’t be sharing what he saw.

“It’s a picture that’s going to stay in my head forever, and that’s where I’d like for it to stay,” Diaz told the broadcaster.

All right, then, NPR’s reporters seemed to say: What horrors might he have seen?

“The AR-15, which is the weapon used by the gunman at Robb Elementary, is designed to blow targets apart,” NPR’s Vanessa Romo claimed.

“It’s a weapon built for war. And when fired into a human adult body, its bullets travel with such fierce velocity that they can decapitate a person, or leave a body looking ‘like a grenade went off in there,’ as Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona, told Wired.”

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The Peter Rhee quote is from a 2016 article which argued that, because of the high muzzle velocity of the bullet from an AR-15 rifle, it does catastrophic damage — damage that you’d usually see from a grenade. (Another surgeon they talked to said if it hits a person’s liver, “the liver looks like a jello mold that’s been dropped on the floor.”)

The claim it “can decapitate a person” came from a piece from left-leaning outlet The Intercept published on Friday.

In the piece, The Intercept noted a U.S. survey of of Vietnam War fighters reportedly found that “Viet Cong fighters hit with the weapon were frequently decapitated and dismembered, many looking as though they had ‘exploded.’ A field report documented how an AR-15 had blown up a man’s head and turned another’s torso into ‘one big hole.’ The weapon was lauded by soldiers on the battlefield for its effectiveness at killing adversaries and even cutting through dense jungle forest.”

“A machine designed for the mass killing and maiming of other people — a design that had nothing to do with hunting or sportsmanship — should not be on American streets,” The Intercept wrote. “At the minimum, no one in public life should be allowed to deny what it really does,” The Intercept’s report stated.

Experts contacted by conservative outlet The Daily Caller, however, found NPR’s allegations lacking in merit.

Rob O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden, called the decapitation claim “100 percent inaccurate.”

“It’s a small caliber bullet with high velocity,” O’Neill said. “It doesn’t decapitate you. I shot bin Laden three times in the head up close with the same caliber and it didn’t decapitate him.”

While the gun can obviously kill someone, O’Neill said, “there is no way, no way” it can decapitate an individual.

“If you think about it logically, which a lot of politicians don’t, you can decapitate someone with anything. People get decapitated in car wrecks. As a former Navy SEAL who has shot people up close with something similar to an AR-15, you don’t blow their head off, it’s not how it works,” he said.

Delta Force Operator Bob Keller, meanwhile, said he’d “never seen” someone decapitated by an AR-15 and added he “would say [the claim is] bulls***.”

Gun expert Stephen Gutowski — founder of firearms-centric publication The Reload — added that NPR’s assertion “doesn’t sound realistic at all.”

But then, realism isn’t the point here. Last week, noted firearms authority Whoopi Goldberg said, during an extended rant on “The View,” that, unlike an AR-15, “a handgun does not turn people to dust” and that the guns are easier to get “than a glass of beer.”

And while those hyperbolic claims were clearly divorced from reality, they weren’t as sensational as NPR’s Tuesday piece.

In what should be a somber look at a man who saw an unspeakable sight and refused to give specifics, they added the lurid specifics — not that they were necessarily accurate or applicable, but why should facts get in the way of a good piece of sensationalism?

NPR has always had a leftist cant, but it’s no longer the soporific, inoffensive broadcast outlet it once was; it now pumps out strident bilge like this in the wake of a divisive national tragedy.

If there were ever a wake-up call that it’s long past time to wean NPR off the taxpayer teat, it should be this.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture