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Stray bullets

Originally published on this website August 16, 2001

Subj: Cop's Stray Bullets...
Date: 8/2/00 2:44:28 PM Pacific Daylight Time

Dear Karen--I am the NRA Firearms Instructor who left voice mail for you on 01 Aug regarding your article on stray bullets fired by cops training. Since I did not hear back, I wanted to address a couple of subjects concerning your article and criticize Chief Torrez, his attitude toward, and his knowledge of the truth regarding automatic weapons.

The fact that police officers actually fired the rounds that struck Mr. Franzen's barn does not in any way invalidate MF's remark that "...There's some crazy fool out there". In fact it fortifies his view since police officers of all people should be aware of the consequences of uncontrolled discharge of firearms. Mr. Franzen is correct to take this incident seriously and to be irritated that the police authorities involved apparently do not--they must be taken to task and held accountable. There was no mention of any disciplinary action to be taken? You are in an excellent position to do so--it is counterproductive to urge further constraints on the civilian gun owner as your paper does, and to allow the police to "have a pass" on this one.

I emphasize to my students that they "own" every bullet they fire regardless of where it strikes. The fact that they were firing at a dirt berm is no excuse--they are responsible to determine what is downrange and within the known maximum range of the ammunition they are firing--no exceptions--and for any damage to life and property their rounds may cause--no exception--no excuse--none--ever--for any reason--period.

The fact that these officers let "bullets get away" is cause to examine what they are doing. What if a child had been struck rather than a barn? "Whoops!" is no substitute for knowing how the buzz saw works!

Finally, his statement that "Fully automatic guns send bullets greater distances than do ordinary guns..." is false--he is either sadly lacking in knowledge of firearms--not an uncommon state of affairs for police officers--or he is lying to cover up his own incompetence. In fact, most fully automatic firearms generally have lesser effective range than an "ordinary gun" such as a bolt-action rifle. A fully automatic firearm uses some of the gases from the burning propellant (powder) to operate the bolt, and loses some power this way--not enough to impair their effectiveness--while a bolt action rifle confines the gases and uses all or most to propel the bullet. Also, though the exact type of full-auto firearms in use is not mentioned, the types most often used in law enforcement are what are termed sub-machine guns, and fire a cartridge of pistol caliber, using much less propellant than a typical rifle. Chief Torrez was conducting "training" using firearms his officers had no experience with, in an area where he should not have been, and is trying to pull the wool over your and the public's eyes. Don't let him get away with it.

Mike Brickman, NRA Certified Firearms Instructor #BEV3212T

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