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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Sunday, October 13, 2002
9:00 PM

The murders have also unleashed a torrent of exceptionally bad writing. One exception is a piece by Post movie critic Steven Hunter, who hunts and has taken some tactical training with professional snipers, the Post tells us (!), I guess to help fill out his novels. But look:

It's notable that he hasn't selected a firearm or a cartridge that's linked to sniping as it's practiced professionally. The police have described the recovered fragments as being from a ".223 bullet," a particular vagueness that suggests they know a lot more than they're letting on or a lot less. In any event, the .223 family of cartridges -- it could also include a target round like the .222, a varmint round like the .22-250 or a specialized pistol round like the .221 Fireball -- aren't part of authentic sniper practice or the more informal "sniper culture" that surrounds this most disturbing but necessary of jobs. Most government and police snipers use a .308 Winchester rifle because it is far more lethal (its muzzle-energy, which measures force in pounds by mathematical formula, is around 2,300 pounds, while the .223's is around 1,200; in most states the .223 -- or any .22 centerfire -- is illegal for deer hunting because it wounds without killing too frequently.) The .223, as a combat round, has proved disappointing; one merely has to read "Black Hawk Down" or the specialized gun press to sample the discontent with its performance in Mogadishu or Afghanistan.

Look, it's plenty enough to kill civilians, but the point is that the Post and other anti-gun activists portray the weapon of the moment as the most sinister kind, regardless of the weapon and regardless of the moment.

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