My freshman political science professor, a pleasantly-cynical Eisenhower historian who made somewhat frequent appearances on Sunday morning scream-fest “The McLaughlin Group,” used to refer to USA Today as “the newspaper for Americans whose attention spans are too short for television news.”
Aside from my professor’s insights into Eisenhower’s deft use of his National Security Council, the USA Today quote has been what’s stuck with me from that class over the years, particularly when I get the colorful waste of newsprint on my hotel doorstep.
From my experience, I’ve been better informed by the folks at RT, whose job it is to intentionally spread misinformation. If it weren’t for the fact there are currently 1,145 extant Holiday Inns, there would be a lot of USA Today staffers looking for work.
America’s favorite inedible side dish to a complimentary continental breakfast proved just why it’s held in so little esteem when it came to its coverage of the Santa Fe high school killings, where a 17-year-old student killed 10 people with a shotgun and a pistol.
Two details set the Santa Fe shooting apart from other recent deadly attacks: explosives and the use of less-lethal weapons. https://t.co/F0rJZQydMa
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 18, 2018
“The guns may have slowed down the gunman’s deadly rampage because they have a slower firing rate than firearms used in other recent mass shootings, such as the AR-15,” according to the report from USA Today’s Christal Hayes.
“High-powered rifles such as the AR-15 can be fired more than twice as fast as most handguns. The standard magazine for an AR-15 holds 30 rounds, allowing a shooter to continue firing uninterrupted for longer, making the weapon more lethal than other firearms, though clearly the use of any gun can be deadly, especially a shotgun at close range.”
In other words, thank God only 10 people were killed.
There are some situations where the rapidity at which a firearm can discharge itself and how many bullets it carries in its magazine could have some impact on how many people are killed in a close-quarters combat situation like a school shooting.
However, in a situation where the targets are gathered in one place and are completely unarmed, none of these things would make a difference.
Case in point: Virginia Tech, where a disturbed student using just handguns killed 33 people.
That point alone should be enough to prove how uninformed this article is, but let’s go with another morbid hypothetical.
Let’s say this gunman had used an AR-15. Unlike a pistol, you can’t conceal an AR-15 easily. It may be light, but it’s still a relatively large weapon. The ammunition is also significantly larger. This makes the perpetrator more vulnerable to being spotted and stopped by law enforcement.
Of the mass shootings that have occurred of late, the only one in which the AR-15 conferred an advantage is the Las Vegas massacre — and we still don’t actually know how gunman Stephen Paddock managed to get Brobdingnagian quantities of firearms and ammunition into a hotel suite all on his own without anyone noticing.
Beyond that, the AR-15 has become nothing more than a piece of ephemera for mass murderers, much like the ubiquitous Richard Nixon mask for bank robbers. To their sick minds, it adds an element of danger and horror they wouldn’t have evoked if they used another gun.
Need proof? Just ask USA Today, which was farcically willing to attribute the “low” death toll to the fact that the gunman didn’t have an AR-15. You can bet that, at this very moment, there are a lot of gun owners shaking their heads inside hotel rooms across this fruited plain.
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