9 mm vs. AR-15

May 27, 2022 • 12:45 pm

I knew that the shooter in the Texas school massacre used a semiautomatic weapon, but just found out it was the AR-15, which has been profiled a couple of times on the television show “60 minutes”.  Below, for example, is a demonstration by a retired Army general showing its power. While the general thinks the rifle should be available to gun collectors or gun aficionados (I don’t), he worries about “what happens when it gets into the hands of the wrong people.” Indeed!

The AR-15 is said to be “the most popular rifle in America.” It’s also a special favorite for mass shooters (it was also used in the Sandy Hook massacre)—and for good reason. (Have a read of this CNN article.)

Remember that a “semiautomatic” weapon like the AR-15 enables you to fire a shot each time you pull the trigger, as it uses the force of the previous firing to eject the casing and reload. According to Wikipedia, “assault weapons” are a subspecies of semiautomatic weapons with extra features, like “a detachable magazine, a pistol grip, and sometimes other features, such as a vertical forward gripflash suppressor, or barrel shroud.”

This clip is from 2018.

And here’s an exegesis of what was probably the piece above, comparing the AR-15 with a handgun often used in crimes, the 9 mm.  The damage done by the AR-15 is immense and scary, with a small entrance hole and then a huge exit hole clearly demonstrated by the experiment with a hog leg.

If you want to stop a perp, you don’t need an AR-15, but it sure is good for mass shootings. I favor strict weapons bans with minor exceptions, but even if you think you need a weapon for self-defense (something that happened 589 times last year compared to about 12,000 homicides), you don’t need a gun like this.  Gun control, which appears dead in the water (Manchin, for example, favors the 60-vote filibuster rule for it in the Senate), won’t even take on weapons like this.

(This appears to be a clip derived from the segment above, but shows different stuff).

Reader Ken sent an update:

Daniel Defense, the maker of the AR-15 style assault rifle used in the recent elementary school shootings in Uvalde, TX, has decided not to open its booth at this Memorial Day weekend’s annual meeting of the National Rifle Association in Houston, TX. (In promotional videos, Daniel Defense bills its version of the AR-15 — the DDM4 V7 — as “a perfect rifle for everybody.”)

I guess Daniel Defense figures it can do without the advertising since, when a similar AR-15 style rifle was used in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, the rifle’s sales skyrocketed all on their own.

90 thoughts on “9 mm vs. AR-15

  1. I watched the sh*tshow of a presser with the Police & FBI. Hard to imagine but everything we’re learning is just worse and worse and worse. 19 officers with 3 ballistic shields stood in the hallway for 40 minutes while shots and 911 calls were still happening. They didn’t go in because they didn’t want to die. Because AR-15s are really good at killing people.

    I’m a rural American. I own guns. I’ve hunted. No civilian needs an AR-15 and anyone who hunts with one should be ashamed. And the hobbyist recreational shooters who love their ARs so much? Find another damn hobby. I’m over it. Let’s pass some laws already.

      1. Sorry, I don’t get the analogy. The .223-cal. bullet fired by most popular versions of the AR-15 has only half the muzzle energy of the .308 fired by a bolt-action rifle used in actual deer hunting and, being lighter, loses more of it on the way to the target at typical hunting ranges. No ethical hunter like my in-laws would shoot a deer with a .223 as it wouldn’t reliably kill it humanely. Inflicting survivable flesh wounds on animals is not what hunting is about. Three tenths of an inch is a big bullet nowadays and a full propellant charge as used in heavy hunting rifles makes them highly lethal. They are really overkill, literally, for modern combat, hence the .223 (or 5.56 mm for NATO).

        1. I’m thinking more with respect to the amount of ammo in a clip for the AR-15. It’s not about the bullet size or the muzzle energy. If anything, I think your arguments agree with my point of view on it. A sportsperson doesn’t (or shouldn’t) need an AR-15 type weapon for hunting. That’s all I meant. The cluster bomb comment was a bit of hyperbole attempting to point out the stupidity (or silliness, or whatever) of using a military-style weapon to hunt. That’s all. Nothing deep.

  2. As someone who did his military service in France, I can only agree about the power of such weapons. We did fire them at 100 meters at thick wooden targets. The bullets went through and then got lost in sand heaps put behind for safety. The precision was also scary, with only a modicum of training.

  3. “The AR-15 is said to be ‘the most popular rifle in America.’ It’s also a special favorite for mass shooters….”

    With all due respect, that is incorrect. Rifles of all types are used in less than 7% of homicides in the U.S. Handguns make up nearly 50% (with knives, blunt instruments, fists, and feet accounting for more than rifles).

    “Remember that a ‘semiautomatic’ weapon like the AR-15 enables you to fire a shot each time you pull the trigger, as it uses the force of the previous firing to eject the casing and reload.

    Most handguns sold in the US are also semiautomatics. The primary exceptions are revolvers.

    “According to Wikipedia, ‘assault weapons’ are a subspecies of semiautomatic weapons with extra features, like “a detachable magazine, a pistol grip, and sometimes other features, such as a vertical forward grip, flash suppressor, or barrel shroud.”

    The term “assault weapon” was invented by anti-gun groups. It has no meaning beyond “a rifle that looks scary to me.” Consider the features you mention: Many different rifle models and almost all semiautomatic handguns have a detachable magazine. A pistol grip does nothing to increase the lethality of a rifle, nor does a vertical forward grip, nor does a flash suppressor (which simply vents exit gasses to the side rather than the front), nor does a barrel shroud (which is simply a piece of sheet metal that prevents people from touching a hot barrel).

    “Assault rifle” is a well-defined term referring to a selective fire (single, burst, and automatic) rifle used by the military. There are already laws that make it very difficult for most people to own one.

    “The damage done by the AR-15 is immense and scary, with a small entrance hole and then a huge exit hole clearly demonstrated by the experiment with a hog leg.”

    The AR-15 is typically chambered in 5.56. A common hunting rifle using 308 Winchester is much more powerful and effective at twice the range of 5.56.

    “If you want to stop a perp, you don’t need an AR-15, but it sure is good for mass shootings.“

    Again, with all due respect, I must disagree. The AR-15 is popular as a self-defense weapon because it is more accurate than a handgun and sufficiently powerful for home defense.

    “…even if you think you need a weapon for self-defense (something that happened 589 times last year compared to about 12,000 homicides)….”

    As I pointed out in one of your recent posts on this topic, this is the wrong metric. There are between half a million and three million defensive gun uses in the U.S. every year, most of which don’t involve people firing a single shot. That dwarfs the number of homicides. It’s also worth noting that approximately two-thirds of those homicides are directly due to the war on drugs and related gang violence.

    The next time you’re on the east coast, I would love to take you shooting. You might still end up anti-gun, but you’ll know more about them.

    1. There are between half a million and three million defensive gun uses in the U.S. every year, most of which don’t involve people firing a single shot. That dwarfs the number of homicides.

      Can you provide a link to the support for this data? Although I currently find myself on the “gun control” side of the debate, I am interested in data like this as these are the kinds of facts that may change my mind.

      “Again, with all due respect, I must disagree. The AR-15 is popular as a self-defense weapon because it is more accurate than a handgun and sufficiently powerful for home defense.”

      Do you have figures available on how many times the AR-15 was used in successful home defense in a given year?

      1. Although not without critics, the “1 to 3 million” defensive gun uses per year is supported by several research publications, some of which are summarized at Kleck, G., What Do CDC’s Surveys Say About the Prevalence of Defensive Gun Use?. Am J Crim Just 46, 401–421 (2021). (Unfortunately I do not have an open access source available.)

        To be sure the discussion is about the same thing, “defensive gun uses” include instances in which fear of guns has deterred attacks or other crimes, and not just when a victim actually shoots in self-defense.

        1. https://www.vacps.org/public-policy/the-contradictions-of-kleck

          It appears that Kleck’s studies have some serious methodological problems…

          “Since a small percentage of people may report virtually anything on a telephone survey, there are serious risks of overestimation in using such surveys to measure rare events. The problem becomes particularly severe when the issue has even a remote possibility of positive social desirability response bias.

          Consider the responses to a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of over 1,500 adults conducted in May 1994 by ABC News and the Washington Post. One question asked: “Have you yourself ever seen anything that you believe was a spacecraft from another planet?” 10% of respondents answered in the affirmative. These 150 individuals were then asked, “Have you personally ever been in contact with aliens from another planet or not?” and 6% answered “Yes.”

          By extrapolating to the national population, we might conclude that almost 20 million Americans have seen spacecraft from another planet, and over a million have been in personal contact with aliens from other planets.”

          Further, according to the link, a study from the same period as Kleck’s, from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), estimated only 65,000 DGUs annually. That’s a far cry off of 2.5 million.

          1. The NCVS only counts reports that were accompanied by a police report. The 0.5 to 3 million stat comes from a CDC/National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and National Research Council survey of 15 US states. This was done before the Republicans pushed through a law forbidding the CDC from gathering gun violence data (!)

            So, we are not going to have perfect or even good data on gun violence, unfortunately.

      1. Yeah, I couldn’t find anything to support it either. As far as home safety, my former sheriff gave some solid advice. He said there were two best options to scare off a home invader. If you are prepared to kill someone, a double barrel shotgun. The sound it makes as you prepare to shoot scares most people. If you are not prepared to kill a person, a very loud dog does just as well in most cases. ARs didn’t even enter the conversation.

        1. If you look at the link I provided, it punctures holes in many of the gun advocates arguments, and paints an even worse picture of gun violence than I imagined.

          In summary, the studies in the link conclude:

          1. Guns are not used millions of times each year in self-defense.
          2. Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments, and are both socially undesirable and illegal.
          3. Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense.
          4. Guns in the home are used more often to intimidate intimates than to thwart crime.

          https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use-2/

          Not a pretty picture!

        2. And with a shotgun, it’s easier to aim in a hectic, adrenalin-spiked situation. I think a pump action shotgun of any sort would also scare most invaders with the sound they make. Either way, I’ll stick with my two loud dogs. 🙂

          1. Plus, if you miss the perp, the projectiles are far less likely to kill the child sleeping next door on the other side of the wall than a round from an AR-15.

        3. … there were two best options to scare off a home invader. If you are prepared to kill someone, a double barrel shotgun.

          The great crime novelist Elmore Leonard said somewhere in one of his novels that nothing concentrates the mind of a would-be perp like the sound of a pump-action shotgun being racked. 🙂

    2. What classifies an incident as a defensive gun use? Do you have to genuinely fear for your safety or does it include disputes over parking spots?

      1. In Canada, that’s easy. In all such cases from parking spots to home invasion you will be charged with illegally possessing a firearm, pointing a firearm, attempted murder, or second-degree murder depending on how dead the victim is. It will never happen that police will decide not to lay a charge, no matter how sympathetic you are. The Crown will prosecute you with the same professional vigour as for any other shooting. Then the jury decides if self-defence applies on the facts after a detailed charge from the judge about how it likely doesn’t.

        In most cases where self-defence might apply, the best it would do for you is to get a conviction for manslaughter instead of murder because in almost all circumstances you would already be committing a criminal offence by having the gun on you in the first place.

        In the rare event that the jury acquits, the Crown will appeal on grounds of jury nullification. In the only recent case I’m aware of, a new trial was granted. Still before the Courts.

        1. In the rare event that the jury acquits, the Crown will appeal …

          Canada doesn’t recognize the principle of “double jeopardy,” Leslie?

          In the US, it has its own clause in the Fifth Amendment, and was well-established in Anglo-American jurisprudence much earlier, dating back to the common law at the time of the Norman Conquest (when it was known as the doctrines of autrefois acquit and autrefois convict). It can even be traced all the way back to the ancient Roman principle non bis in idem (“not twice against the same”).

          1. In Canada the protection against double jeopardy is taken to mean that the police can’t charge you a second time for the same act. But appeals of not-guilty verdicts are common and are not considered to count as being “tried twice.” They just represent steps along the way toward resolution of the one charge.

            The Crown will only appeal a verdict if it can find grounds in errors in law, not just that an aggrieved constituency didn’t like the acquittal, as in the recent grisly case here, not a self-defence case:
            https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-jury-begins-deliberating-in-trial-of-ontario-man-accused-of-killing/
            (The article was updated to indicate that the second jury did convict.)

            Alleged judicial errors would include findings of admissibility or exclusion of evidence, bias shown toward the defence, and an improper charge to the jury, all things familiar to you I’m sure in appeals of convictions. There is also the ground of jury nullification where the jury, despite receiving instructions to return a directed verdict, refuses the direction and returns the “wrong” verdict.

            At his first trial, Henry Morgantaler pleaded not guilty to procuring an abortion contrary to the Canadian Criminal Code. He made no secret of his advertised abortion practice pre-arrest and made no effort to rebut the Crown’s abundant evidence. I don’t know if he actually admitted in Court that he was doing abortions—it was a long time ago. The jury in Quebec acquitted him. The Crown called this a clear case of jury nullification—the jurors had taken the law into their own hands. What next, dogs living with cats? The Appeal Court agreed and substituted its own verdict of guilty. Can they do that? everyone asked. They can, and Morgantaler went to penitentiary.

            Here’s where Morgantaler earned a great victory for all Canadians. In the subsequent appeals that eventually led to the overturning of that section of the Criminal Code, the Supreme Court also removed the power of the Appeal Courts to strike out a jury verdict of not guilty and find you guilty. The most they can do now is order a new trial. This, and our abortion non-law, is where matters rest to this day, thanks to Dr. M.

            1. A Canadian trial court can issue a directed verdict of guilty in a criminal jury trial? Surely that power was moved by the amendment of the Criminal Code you refer to. What justification could there be for removing an appellate court’s power to vacate an acquittal and enter a verdict of guilty, while retaining the power of a trial court to do essentially the same thing?

              1. David, I might have made a layman’s error in my use of the term “directed verdict”. The Wikipedia page on Morgantaler’s first trial doesn’t describe the judge’s charge to the jury and memory is faulty. The juries— there were three trials on three separate charges in Quebec alone, and Ontario had a go at him later! —did accept his defence of necessity in acquitting him. The Crown took this as jury nullification and appealed at least one verdict on that basis. Whether that means the trial judge instructed them that they were not to accept the defence of necessity because it was legally unfounded, but they accepted it anyway, or whether the judge instructed them to use their best judgement as to whether the facts supported Morgantaler’s defence which the Crown thought unsupported by those same facts I do not know.

                Was it, “The defence of necessity does not apply in abortions. Therefore you must convict given the agreed-upon facts.”?
                Or was it, “If you believe that the facts indicated necessity considering the relevant law which I have explained to you, then you must acquit.”? Worth noting is that in hearing these early cases, the Supreme Court rejected his defence of necessity, upholding the Appeal Court’s conviction and sending him to prison.

                In any event, appeal courts can no longer substitute guilty verdicts for acquittals. The Criminal Code is so amended. (If an Appeal Court does order a new trial after a not-guilty verdict, that decision can itself be appealed to the Supreme Court.)

                Thanks for noticing.

            2. In the US, a verdict of acquittal by a jury (or by a judge, at a bench trial) is sacrosanct. The prosecution is prohibited from from appealing such a verdict. After all, a successful appeal would result in retrying the defendant a second time for the same crime — a violation of the very essence of the prohibition in the Fifth Amendment of being “subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy[.]”

              The notion that an appellate court could go even further and substitute its judgment for the judgment of the trier-of-fact that heard and saw firsthand the evidence presented at trial is anathema to everything the US system of criminal justice stands for.

              1. What if there are good reasons to doubt that the jury arrived at its verdict in a fair manner? What if it is uncovered that members of the jury were bribed to reach a verdict of not guilty, for example?

              2. @jeremy:

                If there are grounds to believe that jurors were bribed or otherwise corruptly influenced to return an acquittal, the defendant can be tried for jury-tampering or obstruction of justice. (After all, this is precisely how Jimmy Hoffa was eventually convicted.) But the defendant cannot be retried on the charges for which he or she was acquitted.

                I had this precise issue arise a couple decades ago while representing a pair of extremely high-profile Miami drug-smugglers who were accused of tampering with the jury that had acquitted them in their original trial.

                To my knowledge the only contrary authority in this nation’s history came out of a Cook County, IL, courtroom when an alleged hitman was retried after it was discovered that the trial judge who had presided over his acquittal was himself part of Chicago’s “Operation Greylord” scandal.

                No federal court or court of any other state has seen fit to follow this precedent.

              3. @ Ken
                I appreciate the mental dexterity in the Aleman trial. Because the trial judge was bribed to ensure an acquittal, the accused was never in jeopardy in the first place. So the retrial with a straight judge is not double jeopardy. Well played Mr. DA, sir!

                I liked this passage:
                “Witnesses said that a masked gunman fired once from inside a parked car after calling Logan by name. The gunman then exited the vehicle and, pulling aside his mask as if to show his face to the victim, fired two more blasts.”

                Hard to read that today without thinking, Very considerate of him to observe mask precautions at the start, but reckless and inconsiderate of him to , gasp! , pull his mask aside during face-to-face contact! I hope he didn’t cough on him.

    3. I would suggest that anyone who needs an AR-15 with a high-capacity magazine for home defense has underlying life-style issues — à la Tony Montana in the final reel of Scarface. 🙂

      Also, like others here, I’d appreciate it if you could provide a link to a reliable source regarding the half million to three million “defensive gun uses” in the US every year. When I’ve seen such numbers before, they’ve been estimates based on unreliable self-reporting (the unreliability being suggested, not least of all, by the huge spread in those numbers itself).

      Plus, the line between an aggravated assault with a firearm and a “defensive gun use” can be quite hazy. Here in Florida, for example, nearly every suspect arrested for agg assault with a firearm endeavors to claim self-defense under the state’s “stand your ground” statute — contending that they brandished the firearm in response to some perceived threat from the putative agg assault victim, however strained that threat may seem under the circumstances.

    4. “Rifles of all types are used in less than 7% of homicides in the U.S. Handguns make up nearly 50” Oh, well, that makes it fine and dandy.

      From my side of the Atlantic, some of you lot are insane. What possible justification can there ever be for a private citizen to own a lethal military-grade weapon? Even if you raise the spurious reason that you might need to “defend” yourself, why choose something like the AK-15?

      We have our share of violent, disturbed or psychotic individuals. Some of them manage to kill people. Once a decade or so, we are afflicted by people trying to commit mass murder. What we don’t get is people committing mass murder with firearms several times a year. Nor do any other nations in the democratic world. I’m getting quite worried about where the US, in so many ways still the leader of the free world, is going.

    5. No thanks. I’ve been shooting and am not keen on it. And if defensive uses of guns that aren’t fired are so effective, shouldn’t people just wave unloaded guns, or mock guns, at perps. Apparently firing a shot isn’t necessary!

      And I don’t care what the definiton of assault weapons is (Wikipedia says it’s slippery); I am objecting to the AR-15 and rifles like it. There is no justification for owning one. Taking me shooting is in fact an insult; I’d hate it.

    6. Hi Patrick,

      I don’t know anything about guns, so correct me if I’m wrong, but how powerful does a gun need to be for home defense?

      I mean, here’s how I imagine it would go:

      1. You’re at home when you hear a scary noise, like a downstairs window being broken.

      2. You rush over to your gun safe.

      3. Unlock gun safe, remove gun.

      4. Load gun (being a responsible gun owner, you always store your weapon unloaded, to prevent tragic accidents).

      5. When you see the intruder, you point the gun at him and tell him to GTFO. If all goes well, he leaves, no shots fired.

      At what point in this sequence do you need a powerful firearm? The intruder is close to you if you can see him (across the room from you, so probably 10 feet or less). You’re likely not facing a big crowd of invaders, unless there’s a zombie apocalypse.

      1. A pistol can work if the intruder is not wearing body armor, although you’ll have to have good aim, which may be very difficult in a stressful situation. (Pistols aren’t very effective unless you hit a vital area.) A laser or something can help.

        A shotgun is less wieldy than a pistol and at home distances the pellets won’t spread out to any significant degree, but the multiple projectiles make a vitals hit less important. It still won’t penetrate body armor.

        Most rifles will penetrate body armor and won’t require a hit to a vital area.

        So, a powerful weapon is useful in case of body armor. I expect few criminals wear it, but I don’t really know.

    7. “With all due respect, that is incorrect. Rifles of all types are used in less than 7% of homicides in the U.S. Handguns make up nearly 50% (with knives, blunt instruments, fists, and feet accounting for more than rifles).’

      This statistic is not directly relevant to the claim you are trying to disprove. Dr. Coyne said AR-15 is the favorite of mass shooters, not that it is the most frequently used weapon in all armed homicides. Also note, that for the “favorite” attribute to be correct, it is not needed to be used in the absolute majority of mass shootings, it is sufficient if it is used more frequently than any other specific type.

      It is possible that even with this the claim is not technically correct, but you did not show that.

    8. Couldn’t agree with you more! They also showed an automatic weapon in the article picture. It has a switch for semi automatic and automatic! this article is complete crap!

  4. “The AR-15 is said to be ‘the most popular rifle in America.’ It’s also a special favorite for mass shooters….”

    With all due respect, that is incorrect. Rifles of all types are used in less than 7% of homicides in the U.S. Handguns make up nearly 50% (with knives, blunt instruments, fists, and feet accounting for more than rifles).

    Stats on general homicides and knives aren’t really relevant to mass shootings.

    1. Much will depend on how you define “mass shooting”. I guess there’s a genre of shooting involving AR-15s, but this isn’t among the 6 definitions which Wikipedia helpfully lists. (They vary by whether or not to include gang members shooting each other, etc.) On their sad list of 2022 events, I count 2 of 9 as involving a rifle not a handgun:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States#2022

      I know little about hunting. I know nobody hunts big game with an AR-15, they use bigger faster bullets. I believe semiautomatic rifles are banned for hunting deer in some places. Are there animals for which something like an AR-15 is ideal? The internet thinks maybe for various pests, up to wild goats & pigs, but I’m not certain.

      1. AR-15s come in a large variety of calibers. My dad has never liked military style rifles, but he bought an AR in 6.5 Creedmore to hunt feral hogs at night. They qualify as big game by any definition. I would say that most wild hog hunters I know use a similar rig. One of the advantages is that it has rails to support a long-range thermal scope.
        He uses the same rifle to eliminate the coyotes who prey on his geese. He improved, then stocked a section of river with trout, which he feeds daily. A few years ago, geese started showing up at the same spot at feeding time, so he feeds them as well. When the coyotes killed most of the geese a couple of years ago, he started killing any coyotes he saw near the geese when he showed up in the late afternoon to feed them.

        1. Thanks, that’s interesting.

          Do you think there are policies which could both make such guns harder for would-be school shooters to buy, and find support among people who need to shoot coyotes?

          For instance, I presume few 18-year-olds run their own farm without older family. Might there be room for age limits, maybe requirements that under 25 you need more serious training to get licensed to buy, even if you’re still allowed to help your dad on the farm?

          1. I don’t know anyone who thinks it is a good idea for insane psychopaths to be able to get guns. There are a lot of conditions that make a person ineligible to possess any gun. I think the real issue here is to find a way to put these horribly damaged individuals into such a category, a task complicated by the fact that some of them may not have yet committed a crime, or even had psychiatric treatment.
            In this particular case, there are questions about his sealed juvenile record. IMHO, such a record should be considered by the FBI when doing a background check. Additionally, the kid lived in a household with a convicted felon, which should also have come up.
            I will not be surprised if even more chances to have stopped this before it happened come to light.
            Chicago and other large cities are plagued with kids carrying illegal guns, and shooting people. Last week, a 13 year old shot five people, apparently for wearing red, the colors of a rival gang. Those kids do not seem inconvenienced by the fact that they cannot legally obtain any kind of gun. So, if you raise the purchase age to 25, would that have prevented the Uvalde shooting? He appears to have been pretty determined, and was willing to spend around $5,000 USD for his guns and kit. Would he have just sought out an illegal gun?

            1. Yes I totally agree that illegal handguns are the big story, going by the body count.

              This genre of school shootings are their own weird thing, and seem deserving of some attention even if the absolute numbers aren’t as big. Maybe because they seem so unique — many many countries have gang turf wars, but don’t seem to have this.

              Would he have sought an illegal gun? I don’t know. My guess is that this requires connections, you have to be plugged into the drug world, enough to convince the seller you’re not a fed. Maybe suburban kids would figure out how to do that over the internet. Sounds harder than finding a gun shop’s ad.

              Thanks I did not know about the “household with a felon” angle, nor the juvenile record. I guess I remain astonished the process of background checks isn’t more rigorous. Doesn’t take a week and involve an officer visiting your house (don’t they do that when you adopt a puppy?) or (like a car) an eye test, a written test, and an outdoor test 90 days later. But whether any such check would actually have noticed that he wasn’t OK, in the absence of an obvious paper trail like crimes or psychiatric treatment, I don’t know.

              1. The way it works in Texas, is the person goes to the gun shop, picks out and pays for the gun. Then, they fill out a federal form, with detailed personal info, swearing that they are not in one of the prohibiting categories. The dealer transmits the form to the FBI, then waits for the reply. Sometimes it only takes an hour, but can take up to three days. Here is a page explaining the reasons for denying a sale-
                https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics/national-instant-criminal-background-check-system-nics-appeals-vaf#Federal-Categories%20of%20Persons%20Prohibited%20from%20Receiving%20Firearms

                But it is largely computerized, and relies on lots of agencies to report those things about a person to the FBI. There have been cases where law enforcement agencies failed to make such reports, and the FBI was not notified of important reasons for disqualification.

                If you buy a gun on the internet, they don’t just send it to you. You send payment, and they send the gun to a nearby federal licensed dealer, who makes you go through the same process before you can have the gun. That dealer charges you for the service of transferring the gun and doing the check, which tends to be around $30.00.

                I don’t know much about illegal gun trafficking. But guns, drugs, and gangs seem to be linked, so a drug dealer might be a source. From what I hear about this latest kid, he probably knows a few dealers. Also, gang activity in Uvalde is reported to be much higher than average for a city of that size.

    2. I was talking about rifles, not weapons used in homicides. Here, read this before you start another insincere comment “with all due respect”.

      The following is a partial list of when an AR-15-style weapon was used in a mass shooting:

      Feb. 14, 2018: Shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida leaves 17 people dead.
      Oct. 1, 2017: The Las Vegas slaughter of 58 people.
      Nov. 5, 2017: The Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting that claimed 26 lives.
      June 12, 2016: The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., that left 49 dead.
      Dec. 2, 2015: The San Bernardino, Calif., shooting that killed 14 people.
      Dec. 14, 2012: The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that took 27 lives.

      https://www.npr.org/2022/05/26/1101274322/uvalde-ar-15-style-rifle-history-shooter-mass-shooting

  5. “Gun control” is a phrase that no one dares to speak anymore. The new term—a euphemism—is “common sense x” where x can be “gun reform,” or “gun laws, or “gun legislation,” or “capacity limits,” etc. The operant phrase here is “common sense.” Listen carefully to every politician who favors doing something meaningful, and you’ll hear the phrase “common sense.” It has become the only way to introduce the topic without creating 2nd amendment hysteria. Sadly, because the phrase “gun control” can no longer be used by people who want to stay in power, gun control itself is dead.

    1. “Gun safety” is the latest euphemism. What we really need is “Lobbyist control” in the legislature, i.e. get the money out of political campaigns. Politicians are bought.

      1. It was meant to be an ironic George Floyd (et al) reference (as in the police’s preferred targets). I might have added “nor innocent”.

        It made sense in my head.

        1. George Floyd was no more innocent than any other person the police are trying to arrest after a criminal complaint.

  6. These high velocity bullets are as bad -if not worse- than the forbidden ‘dum-dum’ bullets. I’ve seen some of the damage done in autopsies, it is simply horrific.
    I can’t put my mind around the SC decision that these weapons should be allowed.
    That being said, IIRC hand guns, the 9mm pistols, cause more deaths than these, basically, war rifles (hence I’m also opposed to the free access to hand guns). Nevertheless, an AR-15 is a typical weapon only to be allowed in well regulated militia, for defending freedom.
    As said hand pistols cause more deaths than AR-15 type of rifles, but a hand gun is not really suited to a massacre, the AR-15 is. Note that these mass shootings, although not exclusively, appear to be a typical US-ian pastime.

    I think the whole Heller case is a travesty. The right to possess and bear arms was clearly intended for well regulated militia, and specifically for the defence of freedom. I think the 2nd was not intended to allow any clown to get access to fire arms, hand guns and specifically not rifles like the AR-15.
    I think it is well established that the number of gun deaths and the proliferation of guns are pretty closely related (I think our host clearly showed that in previous posts). Between ‘civilised’ states, as well as within the different US states this appears to be true. The US’s gory infatuation with fire arms is taking it’s toll.

    1. Agree, and when the 2A was written, there was no standing army or professional law enforcement; people forget that the “well regulated militia” was required for protection from the “tyrannical government” of King George III. Now we have a professional standing army and then some, so I think the stipulations of the 2A have been met; instead, the 2A has become sacrosanct. An immeasurable travesty.

    2. > forbidden ‘dum-dum’ bullets

      Forbidden in military use, by most countries.

      But, in my limited understanding, the army doesn’t want them anyway. For most purposes they are more interested in a bullet which can get through an obstacle and still be dangerous.

      Not forbidden in police or hunting use.

      Again not an expert, but I thought police commonly used such expanding bullets, for the opposite reason to the army: They would prefer not to harm someone else standing behind who they aim at, or someone behind a wall etc. when they miss.

    3. Hollow point bullets are not banned for civilian use – well, not everywhere. In fact, you can argue they are to be preferred because, by imparting more energy to the victim, they are less likely to go all the way through and kill somebody else unintentionally. Yes the injuries are worse, but since the objective was to kill the victim (shooting to wound is a myth), you can argue that is not important.

      The AR-15 bullets are actually intermediate velocity. They are faster than hand gun rounds but a hunting rifle or a sniper rifle will use higher velocity rounds. The AR-15 was originally designed as an assault rifle (the M16 is essentially an Armalite AR-15) and standard rifle ammunition would be unmanageable in full auto mode.

  7. What should be understood the extensive damage the A15 is designed to do to enemies in battle field combat. It is extensive especially to a child. Some in Tx were so mutilated they could not be identified but by DNA. Does the citizenry need a gun like this? I think not. An Idea. When Emmit Till’s mother brought him home for burial she insisted on an open coffin (Chicago?) so that everyone could know what brutality was inflicted in the South on him. Photos published in Jet where horrifying to all and great effect on peoples understanding of the brutality of the South towards black Americans. Maybe open coffins would give Republicans and other supporters of free accesses to guns like AR 15 second thoughts about its appropriateness for citizens despite the 2nd amendment which does not speak to the 21 st century or private ownership conditions today. Jaqueline Kennedy when advised to change her clothing soaked in Her husbands blood she replied No let them see what was done. Just thoughts driven by outrage.

    1. The most accepted definition of an assault rifle is one that uses an intermediate size cartridge (between rifle and pistol), and has select fire ( auto/semi) capacity. Perhaps the AR-15 is more of an “assault style” rifle, in the same way that if I paint numbers and sponsor logos on my car, I will have a “race style” car.

      1. Some years ago, the North Anna nuclear power plant here in Virginia replaced their security force’s Ruger Mini 14 “Ranch Rifles” with AR-15s. They sold them through a local gun store and a buddy of mine purchased one. It never made any sense to replace the Mini 14 as it fires the same 5.56 NATO ammo as most AR, and from all reports, the “Ranch Rifle” is a very reliable weapon. My guess is that it does not look menacing enough. the Mini 14 looks like a small .22 rifle that you would plink tin cans or shoot squirrels with. The manufacturer makes a “scary” black and chrome version of the Mini 14 that can be outfitted with folding stocks, scopes and extended magazines. This is the stock version of the Ranch Rifle. It would probably slip under the radar of any assault rifle ban.

        https://ruger.com/products/mini14RanchRifle/images/5801.jpg

        1. This actually sounds like the one job where it does make some sense. In addition to having the right to shoot you at some line before you get into the reactor, it sounds like a good idea if the guards at a nuclear power plant also dress up to look really scary, in case that deters someone.

          Police, on the other hand… I’d rather they didn’t play at dressing up like soldiers.

          This “Ranch Rifle” seems like a nice example of why banning scary looking guns seems unlikely to help much. It would be just as deadly for shooting up a school. While teenage boys do care about how they look, I doubt that having to use one of these would stop many shooters.

        2. Looked this one up and found it was used in at least two of our (rare) mass shootings in Canada, the Montreal massacre of 1989 and the Nova Scotia spree of 2020. (The latter had other weapons, too.)

          Canadian gun laws don’t get bogged down in contentious definitions of what counts as an assault-(style) rifle. Before 2020, if a rifle fired centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic fashion and had a barrel shorter than a standard hunting rifle—the actual length is specified in the regs—it was classed as a restricted firearm. You can own a restricted firearm with a special licence and you can take it to a shooting range where you are a member but you can’t take it away from your registered address or drive around with it otherwise. So all Ruger Mini-14s were by definition restricted firearms no matter how non-scary they look, including the one in the picture. (Most handguns are on the restricted schedule, too, but prohibited if able to fire full auto or are .32 cal. or smaller.)

          The shooter in Nova Scotia acquired his guns illegally (smuggled) and had no licences for his large collection which apparently was known to his neighbours and associates. After his rampage, the Canadian Prime Minister issued a Cabinet Order-in-Council to schedule all such rifles as prohibited. (In a Parliamentary system, an OiC is more durable legally than a Presidential Executive Order because it is made under the enabling law, in this case the Criminal Code.) The prohibited schedule now lists hundreds of rifles, and a few handguns and shotguns, by make and model so there is no ambiguity. You can own a prohibited firearm and pass it to your heirs but you can’t use it for anything, including firing it on your own property, and you can’t buy or sell it to or from anyone else. Current owners are grandfathered, in other words, but they still have to take out licenses and register them as prohibited firearms. There are no current plans to to ban ownership outright through compulsory buybacks or seizures. So presumably they will sit forever in their gun safes awaiting the Apocalypse. The gun-control advocates thought this didn’t go far enough and called for a ban and seizure. (Other prohibited firearms are familiar to Americans: sawed-off shotguns, large-calibre barrels to launch grenades, full automatics…)

          The scheduling is done by the RCMP’s forensic technicians. In the U.S. the ATF would have at least equal expertise. It would be straightforward technically to ban or restrict a firearm according to those three criteria I mentioned above. The phrase “assault rifle” appears nowhere in our gun law. I get that such a definition would ban or restrict many firearms that many Americans would not tolerate being restricted, especially given the large number already purchased under the intention of lawful everyday use..

      2. The only difference between an AR-15 and an M-16 is the fire select level that allows the M-16 to fire a 3 round burst. Soldiers are trained to use their M-16s in semi auto mode to increase accuracy and to prevent the barrel from overheating and warping, which would make the weapon inoperable.

  8. It’s all about the money and the voting machine.

    Money!
    Get away
    You get a good job with more pay and you’re okay
    Money
    It’s a gas
    Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

  9. Here’s an idea. Instead of getting an AR-15 or 9mm for burglary deterrence, put out an American flag.
    I don’t know if it works, but sure would be less risky. People think you’re a gun owner. To me, this would be worth a shot over a gun.

    (Quora.com)
    Profile photo for Joe Palladini
    Joe Palladini
    Owner (2017–present)4y
    I believe that the presence of an American flag in front of a residence would indicate that the homeowner may be a veteran, and thus an armed citizen. I have to put myself in the shoes of the burglar. If I was going to break into a home and I saw a yard sign depicting an alarm system, it would concern me a bit, but would not deter me because those signs are available everywhere. But, an American flag, especially on a flagpole, is a “red flag.” no pun intended. I would find another home to break into.

  10. I was recently watching a Netflix documentary where someone turned up to a meeting carrying a gun, which the other attendees felt was an attempt to intimidate then. It occurred to me that, in similar situations, half the country thinks “I’d feel more comfortable now if I had a gun” and the other half thinks “I’d feel more comfortable now if he didn’t have a gun”. I’m in the latter half.

    1. Once, I participated in a 5 person focus group. This was when I lived in a more rural corner of my state. The focus group company flew two guys from New York out to run the thing. One of the questions involved how safe we would feel picking up a package from a locker – the lady next to me laughed, lifted the side of her shirt to pat & reveal her gun and said “I always feel safe”. The men from NY pretty much jumped backwards in alarm. The man on my other side said, “Welcome to Washington”.

      That man was known in town for shooting and killing a kid who stole some belt buckles from his store as the kid peddled away on his bicycle. The prosecutors declined to do anything because it’s allegedly legal in WA to shoot a fleeing felon and the belt buckles must have been pretty pricy.

      What an odd place it was to be – between these two gun-toters (and one killer) and in front of two very alarmed looking focus group administrators.

    1. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

      “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.

      “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

  11. There are judicial criteria for what sort of weapons would be considered constitutional for an individual to own and bear for their own self-defense. In my opinion, these criteria favor the constitutionality of semi-automatic assault rifles because:

    1) They are similar to what a foot soldier in a military unit would be assigned today. So would be a semi-automatic pistol.

    2) They are popular.

    3) They are useful for home defense. They are compact, easy to use, and deadly.

    There WAS an assault rifle ban that was in effect for several years. That ban was never adjudicated for constitutionality.

    A weapon’s popularity and utility as a constitutional criteria was, IIRC, part of Heller. A weapon’s similarity to what a modern militia would use comes from the 1939 SC case involving Miller.

  12. I have to really disagree about the awesome destructive power of the .223, which is the most common round fired by AR-15s. The cartridge has been sold since the 1960s as a varmint round, a couple of steps up from the .22, but not as powerful as the larger hunting rounds used for deer or other large game. People hunt rabbits, squirrels, and prairie dogs with the .223, because larger rounds don’t tend to leave much behind to eat.
    But the thing is, AR-15s are sold in almost every caliber of rifle and pistol round. A bullet, fired through an AR-15 is going to have exactly the same range and power as it would if fired through any other rifle. You can buy an AR in 9mm.
    There is an AR-15 in just about every pickup truck in our part of the country. They have mostly displaced the big 30-06 rifles that used to be used as truck guns, because they are less likely to get dinged up than a rifle with a wooden stock, and the scope mounts are less temperamental. They can get banged around or get wet without causing undue concern.

    On thing that nags me about the 60 minutes story is that it appears they used a solid projectile for the 9mm and some sort of hollow point in the .223. You could more or less duplicate their gel test between almost any two cartridge sizes, and have whichever you choose do much more damage than the other through projectile type selection.

    The video, and the argument behind it, are designed to provoke an emotional response in support of a specific political agenda. In this case, it seems to have been designed for people with only a casual understanding of the subject. Other people make videos about abortion , designed to provoke similar outrage. In both cases, the goal is not to present objective facts in an unbiased manne, so that the audience will be better informed when they decide how they stand on the issue.

    1. I have personally treated GSWs caused by everything from a 22 short, to a 58 caliber muzzle loader. Tissue damage is related physical displacement by the slug(s) and energy delivered to the tissues. High velocity projectiles (like jacketed rifle rounds) that pass through the target don’t lose that much energy passing through. However, such rounds are accompanied by a high energy supersonic shock wave that cavitates tissues along a track several to many centimeters larger than the slug’s diameter. This explains why I have seen a 5.56 round completely pulp the liver for example. Yes, a 30 caliber round can do a bit more but in my professional experience the 5.56 is plenty lethal.

      Conversely 9mm rounds from pistols are low velocity with most tissue damage limited to the bullet’s path and any fragments.

    2. I don’t quite follow your argument.

      As far as a .223 being a couple of steps above a .22, that’s accurate as far as it goes because the first step up would be a .22 magnum and there’s not much between that and the .222, .223, .248 group of cartridges. It’s a big step even though it’s only the second step. The .223 has about twice the muzzle velocity of the .22 depending on bullet weight and other things.

      I didn’t see any cartridges in the video to make a judgement as to whether the bullets were solid or hollow point. Did I miss that? Please give the time frame of the video where you saw that. I’ve shot a lot of different calibers but never into ballistic gel for comparison. Have you? Was the gel test what you based your judgement on? It’s true that penetration is different with the two types of bullets but to make a good point, you should compare four shots instead of two. FMJ and HP for each of the 9mm and the .223. Then you could make a better observation. As it is, you haven’t made a good argument about what you see as biased reporting.

      You are correct that the AR-15 is made and sold in different calibers. Is your point to question the popularity of that rifle with mass shooters? For anyone on a shooting rampage at close range, an AR in 9mm with several large capacity magazines that are easily exchangeable would do. It wouldn’t be optimal but it would be deadly. You are also correct in implying that the .223 is a medium caliber round that isn’t a good choice for big game but it works for killing people and that’s what we’re talking about.

      1. No time reference or anything, but the 9mm passed through, and the .223 tumbled or fragmented. They did not give cartridge data, so we have to go by the little they showed. I have seen a bunch of ballistic gel tests, and the type of projectile tends to be a critical factor on penetration/tumbling/fragmenting.

        I guess one of my points was that “”9mm vs Ar-15” is by nature a flawed comparison, as there was a lot of assumption and ambiguity in the 60 minutes piece. Another point was that the most popular rifle would also be similarly represented among mass shooters who use a rifle. Charles Whitman used a Remington 600, which was very popular in the 1960s. Neither lunatic would likely have been stopped if their first choice of firearm were unavailable.

        The mentality of someone who would execute innocent children just baffles me. I cannot believe that a person with anything like a normal mentality could be pushed to do such a thing, or that such a person could interact in society without giving strong warning signs. I guess it is normal to want to do something, and it is easier to fixate on the gun, rather than try to figure out what leads a person to such actions.

    3. ” People hunt rabbits, squirrels, and prairie dogs with the .223, because larger rounds don’t tend to leave much behind to eat.” So what?

      It’s abundantly clear that the power of a .223 after exiting an AR-15 IS easily destructive enough to murder many individuals (especially kids) in a short space of time. I would argue that’s a very clear indicator of its awesome destructive power, especially at the sort of ranges that apply in close vicinity mass shootings.

    4. On [sic] thing that nags me about the 60 minutes story is that it appears they used a solid projectile for the 9mm and some sort of hollow point in the .223.

      You’re accusing Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling of some serious dissimulation with that contention, Max.

  13. Just picked the kiddo up from school. It was an activity day (short classes, no real work) so I figured I’d get him early. One of his teachers took the short class to do a safety presentation. The teacher is former military. I’m not going to lie, hearing him recount this was something else. She told the kids three things. One – run. She told them to ignore anyone who tells them to hide – that if they can make a break for it do it. Run. If they cannot run, then they hide. And if they cannot hide, they should fight.

    This is the reality here in the US. The teachers know that even with doors, the drills, even with resource officers, even with SWAT teams, that kids are going to die. That they cannot depend on the adults to save them, and so they must be prepared to save themselves. And this teacher, bless her heart, gave a lecture to give kids the tools to maybe survive if it happens to them.

    Before she gave the lecture she gave a content warning, told them it would be serious and discuss violence. She asked whether anyone would be uncomfortable proceeding. No one raised their hand, they wanted to listen (according to kiddo).

    Kiddo, for his part, a few years ago told me that if he had a chance to engage and disarm a shooter, even if it meant he would die, he would because it would be right to save as many of his classmates as possible. What is a parent supposed to do with that??

    1. This is from Amanda Marcotte, the goofy radical feminist who, among other things, once got in a twist about the Beatles, claiming that the Sgt. Pepper album “took pop music away from girls and made it the music of men.”

      https://www.salon.com/2017/05/29/against-sgt-pepper-the-beatles-classic-made-pop-seem-male-nerdy-and-important-and-that-wasnt-a-good-thing/

      So I take her “journalism” with a giant pinch of salt. But assuming this is true, then is your take that this only proves that police cannot be relied upon at all to protect children in schools from shooters…and therefore we should be arming the teachers instead? Or is it that this is yet more support for gun control and limiting access to guns in the first place?

        1. “I’m curious how the people who want to ban guns plan to protect themselves, assuming they believe that people have a right to self defense.”

          This is an excellent question. I think its an exaggeration that all gun control advocates want to ban all guns (I don’t), but I do think this is one of the more substantive points that gun control folks have to contend with. There have been two times in my life when I’ve experienced a break-in, once as a child and another when I was young and broke renting a dirt cheap apartment in Astoria, Queens that was right next to section 8 housing. After that latter incident, I seriously considered getting a firearm (tough to do in NYC).

          However, I am know deep into reading Private Guns, Public Health by David Hemenway, which is stuffed with data on these very questions that we have been discussing all over this board. On the subject of home defense, unfortunately, numerous studies support the notion that having a gun in one’s home raises, not lowers, mortality risk.

          For instance, in one particular study involving Atlanta police records, out of 197 break-ins, only 3 victims (1.5%) successfully defended themselves with guns, while in 6 (3%) cases, the victim actually LOST their firearm to the intruder. This highlights the risks involved with firearms, and makes the question of effective home defense with a firearm much less straightforward.

          Based on my current understanding of the data, and my own personal risk level (I no longer live in a neighborhood with a high crime rate), the presence of children in the house, and the precautions that we take (we have a home security system, cameras, no large shrubbery near the house that intruders could easily use as cover, etc.), bringing a firearm into my household does not seem prudent.

          However, other people may have vastly different risk calculations that may make having a firearm in the home a prudent choice. So that is why I favor gun control legislation that would still provide a way for responsible people who understand the risks to have some sort of firearm for home defense.

  14. Some of this discussion sounds to me like if Russian guys lament that some recent terrorist used a Tsar bomb on a `Siberian town, how outrageous, he should have only access to tactical nukes. Yeah right. How about no access at all?

    People might have a hunting rifle, when they are registered hunters. I can at least understand that part. Maybe you can rent a gun at a shooting range, or deposit yours there safely, if you are into that kink. But actually running around with guns — no understanding at all. Even stranger to me is that the 2nd Amendment literally says “well-regulated militia” but that somehow means the opposite.

  15. Anyone who owns a gun or who might use pepper spray or even get into a fistfight needs to read Law of Self Defense, by Andrew Branca, an attorney of forty years’ standing who works as a consultant in that specialty. You can obtain the book free from lawofselfdefense.com, paying a small charge for handling and postage. (It’s available at Amazon for $23.95.) If you don’t want to own a gun, obtain just the action of a shotgun. The sound of racking a shell would scare an intruder.

  16. This whole gun thing makes me very sad. I grew up in a family of hunters. It was so much in our culture that I don’t remember being taught to shoot.
    I hunted a lot as a youth.
    I served 6 years in the national guard.
    I remember being taught in basic training that the ammo for our m-16 had a full metal jacket so that it usually only wounded the person it hit and thereby took them out of the fight. Very different from hunting ammo.
    I was the best shot in my brigade and the designated sharpshooter. I was headed toward LA with my rifle when the police had the SLA cornered in a house. It all ended before I got there, but I had time to think that I might be about to kill someone. I am filled with horror at the possibility to this day.
    I enjoyed hunting and target shooting. The NRA has ended all of that. They made me feel dirty for just owning a gun. I gave mine away to a farmer friend. A model 94 lever action rifle that was my grandfathers and a browning semi automatic shotgun that I worked and saved to buy the summer I was 14.
    We have more gun deaths because we have more guns. It is a national sickness. I see no hope for an end to it in my lifetime.

  17. The original AR-15 was an assault rifle, which is to say it fired an intermediate round (more powerful than a handgun and less powerful than a conventional rifle) and can be fired in single shot or fully automatic mode. It’s a rifle designed for soldiers to use against enemy soldiers in wars. In that role it has been very successful – the US Army adopted it with modifications as the M16.

    The M16 was one of the two iconic rifles of the Vietnam War. I think the popularity of the AR-15 style rifle stems from that, If you’ve got something that looks like an M16, you can fantasise that you are on the trail of the Viet Cong back in ‘Nam*.

    I think that is the reason why it’s a favourite of mass shooters. It, along with the AK-47 is the archetypal human killing rifle and AR-15 style rifles are easier to find in America than AK-47 style rifles plus AK-47s are commie guns.

    That said, just banning AR-15s isn’t enough. Its lethality stems from the fact that it is a magazine fed semi automatic rifle. You need to ban (or at least severely restrict) all of them. I’d say the same goes for hand guns. Thomas Hamilton got into a primary school in Scotland and shot 32 other people, killing 16 in about four minutes with just hand guns. If he had been using a bolt action rifle, it would still have been pretty bad, but he might not have killed so many.

    * This sentence is always guaranteed to stir up any forum with a non trivial number of gun enthusiasts on it. I recommend its use everywhere.

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