Last week I took a reporter (Omie) and photographer (Geoff) for the Daily News to the range. Full automatic firearms was the topic. I didn’t have any but I showed them an AR-15 and taught them to shoot it. Omie told me one of the firearms used by Jason Hamilton a few weeks ago was converted from semi-auto to full-auto. I was skeptical but hadn’t really stayed up on the topic. It’s non-trivial to do the conversion and generally you don’t expect losers like Hamilton to have the brain-power and/or strength of will to follow through on something like that.
At least from the editorial standpoint it was pretty clear to me the article was intended to be a hit-piece on owners of machine guns with undercurrents of hostility toward owners of semi-auto firearms. It now turns out both the firearms used by Hamilton were semi-auto. From the Lewiston Morning Tribune:
Gun in Moscow shooting was a semiautomatic
July 2, 2007, 11:04 am
MOSCOW — The AK-47 Jason Hamilton used in his May 19-20 shooting spree is semiautomatic, not fully automatic as was earlier reported by officials investigating the case.
Sgt. Ed Westbrook with the Idaho State Police confirmed Monday that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has determined the gun is a semiauto, which fires one bullet with each trigger pull.
Westbrood said he didn’t know how the AK-47 was initially thought to be fully automatic, which would keep firing as long as the trigger is depressed.
Hamilton used that gun and a semiautomatic Springfield M1A rifle to assault the Latah County Courthouse late in the evening on May 19, firing nearly 200 rounds. He killed Moscow police officer Lee Newbill and church caretaker Paul Bauer before killing himself early in the morning of May 20.
Hamilton had also killed his wife at their home east of Moscow before driving to town to start his shooting spree.
I’m wondering if the Daily News will now publish a correction on their article from Saturday. The entire premise of their article was based on a falsehood. I just wish I knew when the ATF released the info on the gun in question. Did the Daily News have access to that prior to publishing the hit-piece? Of course if they did know that it would probably have just changed the focus from a hit piece on full-auto to a hit-piece on semi-auto firearms. But it would have also completely changed my discussion and interaction with Omie and Geoff.