Concealability had nothing to do with Monday’s massacre in Boulder, Colorado, but the details tell us more about the marketability of semi-automatic firearms using high-capacity magazines.
Discussing open-carry regulation may have been rendered irrelevant with the death of the police officer although some details will be important: was he carrying his “patrol rifle” and did he even have an opportunity to engage the killer and return fire.
The latest wrinkle is the market segment of higher velocity rounds for handguns chambered in 5.7mm (see Ft. Hood shootings) or 5.56mm rifle rounds which appeals to some consumers rather than 9mm or .45.
Rifle makers tried to cash in on that segment by offering even shorter versions of the AR-15 pattern rifle, sold with/out butt-stock. This loophole in what counts as a rifle or pistol sale shows that too many people have different interpretations of “stopping power” or its necessity. As if we need to carry firearms with even higher velocity rounds and larger magazines as personal protection when driving around to do errands like going to the mall.
Not unlike selling cars whether sober or drunk, it’s that undercoating where the profit’s located. California’s regulation of accessories after the Brady Law was also about creating more markets as well as some gray markets like handcranked triggers to replicate machine guns or higher capacity magazines. Then there’s the suppressor market. And caring about access to handguns or concealable rifles seems not on the mind of sober drivers.
One reason for the massive death toll at the 2017 Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Massacre was the use of the aftermarket accessory of a bump-stock, allowing for quasi-automatic gunfire using recoil with an AR-15 pattern long gun. That killer had amassed an arsenal perhaps for arbitraging reasons, but then decided that mass murder was more enticing.
AR-15-style pistols have much shorter barrels than typical rifles. For example, Ruger’s AR-556 pistol models have barrels between 9.5 and 10.5 inches, or about half-a-foot shorter than its rifle cousin. A shorter barrel will reduce some muzzle velocity.
The lack of a stock is another factor that lets AR-15-style pistols skirt the definition of a rifle. They are sold either with nothing attached or with a stabilizing brace that helps the operator secure the weapon to the forearm for one-handed firing, like a typical pistol.
However, the brace can also be used to shoulder the rifle like a regular stock, as shown in videos, making the pistol function essentially no different from a rifle.
The platform has been used in other mass shootings. A gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people in 2019 with an AR-15-style pistol.
Shorter barrels are favored in the military, law enforcement and elsewhere because they can easily fit into vehicles, lessen the chance of snagging on doorways and generally make a weapon more compact, said Doug Parisi, a former police captain. Some people use AR-15-style pistols as a “truck gun,” or a compact weapon to keep in a vehicle.
That compact size, especially of a rifle-type pistol, makes the weapon more easily concealed in a coat or a bag. And a barrel with six inches less physical space makes it harder for someone to grab or knock away when it is raised, compared with a typical rifle.
The distinctive characteristics of the C96 are the integral box magazine in front of the trigger, the long barrel, the wooden shoulder stock which gives it the stability of a short-barreled rifle and doubles as a holster or carrying case, and a grip shaped like the handle of a broom. The grip earned the gun the nickname “broomhandle” in the English-speaking world, because of its round wooden handle, and in China the C96 was nicknamed the “box cannon” (Chinese: 盒子炮; pinyin: hézipào) because of its rectangular internal magazine and that it could be holstered in its wooden box-like detachable stock.
With its long barrel and high-velocity cartridge, the Mauser C96 had superior range and better penetration than most other pistols of its era; the 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge was the highest-velocity commercially manufactured pistol cartridge until the advent of the .357 Magnum cartridge in 1935.
After-market accessories were the workaround for new regulations of higher-capacity magazines on certain rifles. It was good for business because the modification or customizing personal firearms is a big business. What’s worse is the fetishized demand for increased killing capability perhaps prompted by media and fueled by cultural conflict.
Then again maybe as Senator John (no relation) Kennedy (R-LA) says “we shouldn’t get rid of all sober drivers”.
It’s creeping bump-stock-ism in the aftermath of massacres because Greedo didn’t shoot first and as Senator Kennedy says, we need idiot control.