The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

About the weapon

The weapon Hasan used in the Fort Hood slaughter was an FN 5.7, according to news reports. It's an unusual gun. Semi-automatic pistol that shoots a center-fire .22 caliber bottle-neck cartridge that looks more like it belongs in a long-distance rifle. It's an unusual round for a handgun -- intended for extreme accuracy for military personnel. And, yes, some ammunition can penetrate Kevlar, at up to 200 meters. Here's a review.

Yes, it is available for sale to the general public, unlike other FN products, which include fully-automatic machine guns.

Hasan's weapons choice is really unusual for someone who was going off the deep end and thinking about going on a shooting spree. He had to have researched this. This is the gun he wanted. Bullets would have traveled through their human targets and likely hit another. The clip holds 20 rounds, unlike a .45 (1911) which has clips that can hold 13.

Additionally, contrary to MSNBC reports, it's an expensive gun, retailing for more than $1,000.

The gun was designed for one purpose – to kill humans. (regular readers will note that I'm not opposed to citizens owning such weapons, in fact, I own two such weapons -- a Kimber 1911 .45 cal. pistol, which I carry, and a 7.65 Argentine Mauser, which was manufactured in the early 1920s, and which has been customized for use in hunting large game.)

What makes the FN Five-seveN interesting is that it really isn't an impulse buy. The bullet, if not precisely placed, would likely travel through the target without doing much damage unless it hit bone or vital organs, which likely explains the number of wounded.

I think the guy planned this attack for some time. And, with this particular weapon, it's a wonder more people did not perish.


Bill Fleming said...

So Mike, are you saying that each bullet he fired could have hit 3 or 4 people instead of just one? I suppose that starts to explain it. Seems like there's still a lot more info to come out of this story.

Michael Sanborn said...

It sort of depends on a number of factors, Bill. If the bullet will pierce Kevlar, it will go right through a human, as long as it doesn't hit bone. Pretty hard to hit a vital organ and not hit a rib, however.

It is a very small bullet, with a lot of power behind it. Imagine a .22 cal. with a whole lot more power behind it. Make it aerodynamic and it flies straighter, longer.

I can't imagine it going through 3 or four people. Hitting two isn't out of the question.

But there were 13 dead and 30 wounded, right? That's just a little more than two clips at 20 rounds per clip.

A practiced shooter could probably get 43 rounds off (and change clips twice) in less than a minute. And, my own speculation (non-expert, of course) is that anyone who would use this weapon in this manner, planned to do so, and so would likely have practiced.