One upon a time, back when MTV played music videos, there was a magazine called Rolling Stone that covered the music scene. In recent years, however, the publication has devolved into a fantasy journal, and it’s fairing poorly as a result. The magazine is currently reeling from the fallout of a now-retracted article about a gang rape at the University of Virginia that simply never took place, and is in the process of being sued for in a $.75 million defamation suit by UVA Dean of Students Nicole Eramo in a case the outlet richly deserves.
The story, titled “A Rape on Campus” and written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, centered around the allegations of a UVA student identified only as “Jackie,” who recounted a vicious gang rape that she said took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Totaling 9,000 words, the story was met with shock and disgust nationwide. After it was published, UVA suspended all fraternities.
But the story soon unraveled as questions about Jackie’s claims mounted. Journalists and readers were stunned to learn that Erdely did not contact any of the accused rapists.
A subsequent investigation by Charlottesville police found no evidence that the rape ever happened, and Rolling Stone later retracted the story after a review by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism identified significant problems in Erdely’s reporting and the magazine’s fact-checking.
You might think that a magazine with it’s reputation in tatters would put forth a reasonable about of effort to ensure that they didn’t beclown themselves again with shoddy reporting and non-existent fact-checking… but you’d be wrong.
Some hysterical git named Tim Dickinson has embarrassed Rolling Stone yet again with an article so bad, and so biased, that even the the headline of the article is factually wrong (and no, reporting this bad isn’t rewarded with a link or traffic that makes lying profitable).
All-American Killer: How the AR-15 Became Mass Shooters’ Weapon of Choice
It’s a heck of a headline… and entirely false.
Lost in the diatribes about banning assault weapons is this inconvenient fact: the vast majority of mass shooters use handguns, not assault rifles, in their attacks. That includes S___ C__*, who used two handguns, including a Glock 19, in 2007 to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech University, the previous worst mass shooting in American history.
A study last year by the Congressional Research Service found that from 1999 to 2013 assault rifles were used in 27 percent public mass shootings, which it defines as the killing of four or more people in a relatively public place. Dating back to 1982, the rate is 24 percent, according to research by James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University professor who studies mass murder.
“Assault weapons are not as commonplace in mass shootings as some gun-control advocates believe,” Fox wrote in a 2012 article in the journal Homicide Studies.
If Tim Dickinson and Rolling Stone’s lawyers of editors and fact-checkers had done their damn jobs, they would have done the basic research to determine that mass shootings are carried out with common handguns from more than any other kind of firearm.
The Virginia Tech Massacre was carried out with a pair of common handguns, the Glock 19 and Walther P22, both with standard capacity magazines. The massacre of innocent church-goers in Emanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston by a racist loser was carried out with a single .45 handgun. The Washington Navy Yard shooting was carried out with a common 12-gauge shotgun. The mass murder at Luby’s Restaurant in Killeen, TX, was carried out by a man with two common 9mm pistols. Both mass shootings at Fort Hood were likewise carried out by individuals with common handguns.
Dickinson calls up the specter of the Bushmaster carbine used at Sandy Hook as a favorite boogeyman, but neglects to mention—either because of bias or gross incompetence—that the gunman had so much time to carry out his assault that his choice of weapon was utterly irrelevant, as SWAT cop turned high school English teacher Mike McDaniel made clear at Bearing Arms earlier today.
The first call to police was not made until nearly six minutes into the attack because the killer was actually in the school office, forcing staff to hide, helplessly, under their desks. Until he left—no one knows why he didn’t try to find and kill the secretaries—no one could make the call. The first officer arrived within 3 minutes of receiving the radio call—a blisteringly fast time in such situations—but no officer entered the building until 9 minutes after they received the radio call, about 15 minutes after the attack began, and about 6 minutes after the first officer arrived. By then, the killer, who shot himself, had been dead for about five minutes, and all of his victims were wounded, dying, or dead. If he chose, he could have killed for an additional five minutes, perhaps more, as it would have taken the officers some time to find and engage him. In school shootings, every second waiting for the police is bought with blood.
The demented killer who ended 26 lives at Sandy Hook did use a Bushmaster carbine, but could have killed just as many victims with the two pistols in his possession, the Saiga 12-gauge shotgun he left in the trunk of the car he drove to the school, or for that matter, just about any common handgun, rifle, or shotgun in the United States. Elementary schools are undefended (and remain so, despite the NRA’s call to implement the National School Shield program to make schools harder targets for terrorists and madmen).
I could easily go on for another 2,000 words or more deconstructing Dickinson’s technical inaccuracies, appeals to biased authorities, and general ignorance about how firearms and ammunition work… but what would be the point?
Those who actually know firearms know that Dickinson’s article is nothing more or less than fear-mongering propaganda, and those who are ignorant enough to pretend that Rolling Stone is a credible news outlet of any sort aren’t likely to be dissuaded by pesky thinks like facts, evidence, or reason.
On the upside, it doesn’t appear that Rolling Stone managed to defame anyone in this article, so it’s likely this article won’t cost them millions in a civil suit, even if it should be retracted for being grossly, hysterically inaccurate.
* Bearing Arms does not publish the names of mass or spree killers.