I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.
The Washington Times came out with a report today that the White House is trying to sell the proposed ban on “green tips” – 5.56 M855 ammunition rounds, which can be used in the popular AR-15 rifle (as well as the military M16) – as a way of saving police officers’ lives.
The White House said Monday that President Obama believes a ban on bullets commonly used with the AR-15 rifle will save police officers’ lives.
“We are looking at additional ways to protect our brave men and women in law enforcement, and believe that this process is valuable for that reason alone,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
Calling it a “common sense step,” Earnest went on to make no sense at all:
“The president has long believed that there are some common-sense steps that we can take … to ensure that we’re protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans while also taking some common-sense steps to prevent people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them,” he said.
Mr. Earnest added, “This seems to be an area where everyone should agree that if there are armor-piercing bullets available that can fit into easily concealed weapons, that it puts our law enforcement at considerably more risk.”
None of this weird speech hangs together; it’s just a series of unrelated buzzphrases strung together. But let that pass, for the moment.
My immediate interest was to locate data that I knew would back up the following assertion: very few police are killed with rounds expended from AR-15 rifles. Handguns like .38s and 9mms are far more likely to be used by cop-killers.
That’s where this post took a detour. The Washington Post did a news story in November 2010 that was exactly on point. A Google search brought it up at the top of the search results, as seen in figure 1. I could tell this story would give me a good start on what I needed.
So I clicked on it. It flashed on the screen for less than a second, and then the screen went a blank white. I tried reloading it. It flashed, and went blank again. I tried to get the screen to keep the story displayed on it several times, and nothing worked. Each time, the story flashed once, and then the screen went blank.
Don’t even start with the advice about how to recover old cached versions. I know all that, and I did find a way to get to this story (although there’s no cached version available from the Google search results slug). But techniques for recovery are not the point here. The point is that the story is blanked out.
Here’s the link to the story: let’s see what happens when you click on it. (And please report back. I’ve verified with one other person that the same thing happened to him.)
Fortunately, the Denver Post carried this story in its entirety under a different headline. (Thanks to rellimpank at Free Republic for posting the link.) I was able to recover it, and confirm that, of the 511 law enforcement officers killed between 2000 and 2010, 88 were killed with rifles. Out of those 88 killings, the largest number – 17 – were committed using AK-47s.
Each other rifle model/ammo caliber individually, such as the AR-15 using .223 or 5.56 rounds, therefore represented 16 or fewer of the 511 killings. To understand how many rifle models, and ammo calibers and manufacturers, there are out there, take a look at this list. We don’t know how many of the 71 non-AK-47 killings were perpetrated with rifles firing 5.56 rounds. Given the popularity of the AR-15, 5.56 ammo may well have been “overrepresented.”
But it’s basically impossible that all 71 of the non-AK rifle killings were committed with rifles using 5.56 rounds. Rifles with common hunting rounds – e.g., .270, .308, .30-30 – are likely to be included in the total.
Moreover, it’s quite possible that not all of the non-AK killings were by perps who owned (or stole) civilian firearms. The WaPo story indicates that 51 of the 511 killings were a result of police weapons being turned on police officers. Although it’s less likely that a police rifle will be turned on an officer than that a handgun will, that factor should be taken into account.
Any police rifles used by perps in cop-killings are quite likely to be loaded with 5.56 rounds. And, of course, banning 5.56 M855 rounds for civilian purchase won’t reduce the threat from those rounds in such cases.
At any rate, by far the largest number of police killings – 255 – were committed with semiautomatic handguns, and another 95 with revolvers. Shotguns accounted for another 37. See the story for why these numbers don’t add up to 511. If we extrapolated by percentage to account for the whole 511 total, there could have been up to 74 non-AK-47 killings with rifles. There might have been, as a best estimate, 35 or fewer killings over the 10-year, 9-month period with rifles using 5.56 rounds. In other words, less than 10% of the 511 total.
The Obama administration’s new ammo-ban talking point is thus complete nonsense. And the WaPo article that makes that clear – the top search result – has been set to blank out so the public can’t see it.
Again, do report back if you get a different result, and I’ll update this post. In the meantime, screen-caps of the WaPo story as hosted at the Denver Post.