“Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.” The Difference Between a Gun and a Weapon of War.

There was a time where when I would drink beer with “the boys” in Texas, and their brains started to twitch.  Then they would get that look of confusion in their faces, which is an indicator of the effects of cognitive dissonance.

Some call it the light bulb going off.  It is also sort of like tuning in a radio station at night to hear your favorite baseball team.  What would cause this moment is when I would challenge them with a key element of my gun reform platform.

“Why,” I would ask, “does anybody living five minutes from a Kroger need enough ammunition to invade a Central American nation, and ammunition that would behead a rhinoceros?

After all of the talk of “freedom” and “masculinity” and “right of passage” that was the A.M. frequency that cut through the clouds in their heads that they had no answers for.  For a day or so.

What happens when someone is challenged on their beliefs is usually they immediately go running for some sophist to reinforce their biases.  Inevitably they would bring it up later and talk about  notions of “the grid going down” or other instances of civil unrest.

I would politely remind them Zombies are not real, aside from the ones they vote for.

So the question begs, why did an 18 year-old man have ten weapons in his possession, with 1,400 rounds of ammo?  He had it, one, because he was able to buy it.  And two, he (allegedly) intended harm with it.  But this was not just regular ammo.

We can’t exactly always prevent a human from wanting to harm other humans.  We can, however, deny them the access to the means by which to do it.

Beau Wilson, 18, opened fire from his own home before he walked out and continued to shoot indiscriminately beginning about 11 a.m. Monday, hitting seven houses and 11 cars, San Juan County Sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Burns said.

Investigators have picked up at least 176 rounds, 141 of which were fired from Wilson’s home, Burns said.

He fired 176 rounds, which if you are scoring at home, is close to twelve magazine’s worth if one were firing a standard 9 mm handgun.  The right wing will say, “So, he could have done the same thing with a handgun.”  Nope.  Not even close, as you will read.

However I do not know as of this writing what percentage were fired from what kind of gun.  But as a thought exercise, I thought it would be interesting to look at the differences of efficiency and power of shooting 176 rounds of an AR-15 rifle versus a handgun.

Without modifications such as a bump stock, an AR-15 can fire about 60 rounds a minute. A 30-round magazine is fairly standard with MSRs but ammunition magazines (“drums”) holding up to 100 rounds can be changed in just a few seconds. Some states currently cap the capacity to 10 or 15 rounds.

Large magazines, or those containing more than 10 rounds, played a role in at least 86 mass shootings since 1980, according to a report from the Violence Policy Center, a national nonprofit that advocates for gun control.

So there is the rifle itself, and the enhancements to the rifle that make it so dangerous.

A standard semi-auto AR15 chambered in .223/5.56mm can fire up to 45 rounds per minute, allowing the user to adjust and compensate for center mass as they are firing. Full auto and binary triggers will greatly increase the rate of fire.

So we have full auto, and semi-auto.  Remember that.  Because the above statement has more to do with the proficiency of the shooter than limitations of the weapon.

Tom Kehoe, a Florida firearms instructor and leather holster maker, wrote in a Quora post that top sporting competitors can pull the trigger “three times a second — for short periods of time. So the theoretical ‘cycling rate’ might be 180 rounds per minute, but the reality is you’re only maintaining it for bursts of a second or two.

“Rapid firing generates tremendous amounts of heat, he wrote, and most modern semi-automatic weapons use 30-round magazines, “which means the mag would have to be changed six times to reach the magic 180 number. An expert can change a mag on some rifles in about two to three seconds (depending on the gun and how he/she has staged the mags), but that’s still 12-18 seconds of lost shooting time per minute.” That would make the maximum theoretical rate about 138 rounds per minute, he said.

Let us assume that young Wilson was not an expert, and double his reloading time to about 25 seconds.  He may still be able to reach 100 rounds in a minute.  A competition shooter, the best of the best, with a handgun, could barely cross 70.  So 43 percent difference in efficiency aside, let’s look at the rounds themselves.

In most cases, the shooters utilize what is known as a NATO round.  Most of the AR-15s used hold a .223 caliber 5.56 NATO.

The primary bullet used in these calibers is either the soft point ammunition for the . 223 caliber (5.56 NATO) or the jacketed hollow point (JHP) in the 9mm. The ballistics and resulting wound trauma for each of these bullets reveals the 9mm provides much less terminal damage while remaining almost totally intact.

The reason for this is that a 5.56 transfers roughly three times the amount of energy as a 9 mm; 1800 joules, compared to 500.  This makes the wound differences on a target more akin to damage from a miniature cannon.

This leads to this result:

“ The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun.”

“The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different from a low-velocity handgun injury. The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat traveling at maximum speed through a tiny canal…The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange .”

Put simply a 9 mm is plenty lethal, and can enter at the size of a pencil and exit at the size of a Sharpie.  But there is lethal and automatically fatal.  A “polite society” can surely gauge the difference, correct?  Below are entry wounds of commonly operated firearms.


And then there is the AR-15.

This is an orange.

ripe orange with leaves on white background

The NATO round eviscerates tissue, and leaves stumps where once were heads.  They decapitate, amputate, and permanently debilitate, if the victim survives.  In the course of study to do this story I have seen horrific images of violence and the graphic results of the use of such weapons.  Tonight, I will not sleep.

But I felt the need to do it because there may be a misunderstanding in the broader public.  An AR-15 is not just a “long gun” that fires the same types of rounds as a handgun, or even faster.  It is a different machine altogether.

And considering that it is much closer in character to its fully automatic cousin, which requires a special license from the ATF to own, there is no argument to preserve its legality.  These types of weapons are already illegal.  The precedent is already there.  As a fully auto machine weapon can fire at 700-900 rounds per minute, the only debate is how many rounds per minute of lethality do we feel the Constitution permits an individual to fire?

Perhaps we should ask the National Rifle Association.

And the NRA helped shape the National Firearms Act of 1934, with two of its leaders testifying before Congress at length regarding this landmark legislation. They supported, if grudgingly, its main provisions, such as restricting gangster weapons, which included a national registry for machine guns and sawed-off shotguns and taxing them heavily. But they opposed handgun registration, which was stripped out of the nation’s first significant national gun law.

Actually let me give you a direct quote, from the former President of the NRA:

The 1930s crime spree of the Prohibition era, which still summons images of outlaws outfitted with machine guns, prompted President Franklin Roosevelt to make gun control a feature of the New Deal. The NRA assisted Roosevelt in drafting the 1934 National Firearms Act and the 1938 Gun Control Act, the first federal gun control laws. These laws placed heavy taxes and regulation requirements on firearms that were associated with crime, such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and silencers. Gun sellers and owners were required to register with the federal government and felons were banned from owning weapons. Not only was the legislation unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in 1939, but Karl T. Frederick, the president of the NRA, testified before Congress stating, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

The crime of the 1930’s turned America’s streets into warzones.  While these were primarily between rival Mafia families, innocents were being caught up in it and traumatized.  America acted.

They recognized that mad men parading down Main Street armed to the teeth with a weapon designed to separate heads from torsos was a bad idea.  Even the NRA recognized this as a bad idea.

And then there is today.

“Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.”

I tell you what, to anyone reading this who might not get it, or scoff, or think that I am some kind of pencil-neck with no testosterone:

In Uvalde, the coroner had to gather the remains that were left, and piece together deceased children in an attempt to merely identify them.

So after reading that, what does your testosterone measure now, Pardner?


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