The average journalist doesn’t really understand guns.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known a few journalists in the past that were actual gun people. Yes, they really do exist and aren’t as rare as unicorns riding dragons while jousting with ogres. Not quite, anyway.

But the fact that they don’t understand guns doesn’t negate ridiculously bad reporting. As a journalist, you owe it to your readers to get the facts right. Over at USA Today? A complete and total fail.

In this video, USA Today decided to inform their readers about the Ruger-556 rifle used by the gunman in Sutherland Springs. It was doing just fine for a little while…until it started getting into the modifications. While yes, you can get 100-round drum magazines for the AR platform, it kind of goes off the rails after that.

The very next option it claims can be added is an under-barrel 12-gauge shotgun.

Yes, this is a theoretical possibility, but their little video fails to note that doing so runs afoul of some specific laws that have to be adhered to. Basically, it becomes an NFA item and requires one to undergo the same procedures you would have to go through to buy a machine gun.

Then it gets silly.

You see, following the trigger crank, USA Today present the “chainsaw bayonet” as an AR-15 accessory.

That’s right. The chainsaw bayonet.

To be sure, they exist. Video exists on YouTube and you can find a handful of images on Google of them. However, they’re expensive and stupid, and a lot of gun people didn’t even know the blasted things even existed. Some won’t until they read this or another article that includes a link.

Then why include them? Simple. USA Today is trying to present these features as common because they’re scary. The idea of someone like the Texas killer having a shotgun slung under his rifle, or a chainsaw, sounds terrifying. After all, that guy sounded mean enough to have actually used something like that.

This isn’t journalism. It’s activism.

The video goes on to talk about the particular model that the killer had. Basically, it was a stock Ruger with Magpul furniture on it. Magpul stocks and handguards are pretty cheap for a quality product and they’re popular as hell. People love them, and for a good reason. They work well and look good. They’re far less expensive than a rail system of comparable quality.

But they’re nothing particularly special so far as lethality…so why did USA Today point to the Magpul stock as a “six-position telescoping buttstock” when describing the new stock? Because it sounds a little bit scarier. They failed to point out that the base model rifle also has a six-position stock.

Again, it’s activist, not journalism.

What they’re presenting as fact is a very rare subset of accessories routinely affixed to any weapon. Yes, optics like the killer used are not uncommon. Neither are flashlights and foregrips. Optics help improve accuracy for numerous sporting purposes. Flashlights are handy for using a weapon for home defense when you may have to deploy it in the dark. Foregrips are an ergonomic feature and nothing else.

However, those normal accessories aren’t as scary as underbarrel shotguns and chainsaw bayonets. They’re not going to freak people out. So USA Today needed something scarier, because scared people push politicians to make new laws, and that’s the real endgame, now isn’t it?