Monday, October 2, 2017

- Fully Automatic Weapons

I made the mistake of listening to NBC on youtube, so a refresher is in order.

Yes, in my estimation based on the sound of the gunfire, this was a 'fully automatic' weapon. That makes it a 'class 3' 'machine gun', which can only be legally possessed by a holder of a class 3 Firearm Dealer's license.

A class 3 license is extremely difficult to get. Among the things you sacrifice when the license is issued is that you give up your rights for 'search and seizure' and allow law enforcement the ability to enter and search the place where you store the weapon at any time, without a warrant. The machine guns themselves must have been built prior to 1986, which limits their total supply. That limit on supply has radically increased their price and a typical 'fully automatic' 30 caliber machine gun can cost tens of thousands of dollars. It's unlikely that a 'legally owned' machine gun was used in this shooting.

It cannot be bought at a gun show. It cannot be bought via a 'private sale'. It cannot be legally owned or possessed by an ordinary American. It cannot be legally assembled as a 'ghost gun' or any of the other 'scare word' descriptions that the press typically uses.

There are tools that can be used to convert a semi-automatic variant of common rifles to mimic 'fully automatic' function, but they are notoriously unreliable and universally illegal. And if these tools are used, they make the firearm into an illegal to own, class 3 weapon which was 'manufactured' after 1986. No reports of specifics on whether one of these was used for this shooting yet.

It sounds like most of the shooting happened 30 rounds or so at a time. That supports the idea that this was an illegally modified semi-automatic weapon, and the potential for unreliability would also explain the fact that there were multiple firearms found at the scene. Based on reports that I've heard, we have no idea yet if one weapon or several were used.

One more comment on the sound. The video I saw from the hotel made it sound very AK like, while the video from the target area at the concert has 2 separate sounds. It's just speculation, but I think the higher pitch sound was not a second shooter or second weapon, but the sound of the bullets striking pavement and other material in the target area. I have no news that you don't on these specifics, just a lot of years listening to guns go off.


ikaika said...

Tom - it's possible that he used an after-market item like the 50-state compliant "slide-fire"

Tom said...

I'm hearing .223 and one .308 weapon on NBC. they're staying just short of calling them ultra-ballistic cop-killing sniper rounds, but they're talking it up quite a bit.

To my knowledge there is no readily convertible .308 rifle out there. AR10's don't convert well. It could very well be it was a backup weapon never fired. It certainly wasn't fired automatically.

Even the .223 depiction still sounds like speculation to me. Lost of talk about how they're designed for maximum damage (which could mean cavitation) but that has to do with barrel rifling and range of fire, so who really knows - certainly not Matt Lauer.

That 'slide-fire' solution sounds like a real potential option. It's essentially a carefully designed 'bump-fire' solution. It's also a good example of how weapons design (like derivatives design) is basically a market where the designers are smarter than the regulators. If he did use it, I wouldn't expect it to remain legal for very long.

ikaika said...

Pause between reloads. One twitter guy (Thomas Wictor) slowed the audio and counted 111 shots.
My amateur ears says it was a .223
a .308 regardless of rapidity is gonna make more of a boom than a .223.