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Any weapon experts out there?(43 posts)

Any weapon experts out there?AllisonHayes
Oct 8, 2002 5:47 AM
The shootings in the DC area were done by a 223 caliber rifle. I did a search and it turns out this rifle is the choice of snipers. What kind of person is behind this? Is this some kind of paramilitary wacko individual/group? Or is this some kind of terrorist ploy?

What does he/she do? Sit in the woods 500 yards away simply waiting for a target to appear and then calmly squeeze the trigger. What cowardice! This idiot has me really angry.

I hope they catch him/her quickly. Where is Charles Bronson when we need him?

From one web page: (

"The military sniper operates on the principles of tracking,
concealment, observation, and long range engagement. Generally, one quick shot is all that is needed, with a hasty retreat to follow."

From another:

The M96 is the most awesome .223 rifle available to civilians.

M96 is the newest semi-automatic rifle to be offered to civilians in the U.S. Its modular features allow it to be assembled into a variety of configurations. Not only is it reliable, but very accurate.

The M96 is based on the Stoner 63 Weapon System designed by Eugene Stoner and used by the U.S Navy Seals in Vietnam. The Stoner 63's receiver, using a variety of modular components, could be configured as a rifle, carbine, a top fed light machine gun, a belt fed squad automatic weapon, or a vehicle mounted weapon. The M96 has been designed with similar modularity in mind but has been simplified for easier maintenance.
I'm no weapons expert but...Wayne
Oct 8, 2002 6:01 AM
I've caught a couple of the news conferences. One said the weapon was probably the M-14 which is the civilian (i.e. non-automatic) version of the military's M-16. And something I saw this morning said the distances from which these shots have been fired do not require any kind of marksmanship training to hit something the size of person.
I'd like to read the profile they've come up with this for this guy. I'm sure he's not your garden variety killer. I found it interesting that after the local police/media focused alot on sending kids back to school, to show him that the public won't be intimidated, etc., he went and shot a kid in front of a school. Talk about somebody pissed off at society.
I'm no weapons expert but...BIGBOB
Oct 8, 2002 8:38 AM
The M-14 preceded the M-16 as the military's weapon of choice. The M-14 was a .308 cal. (7.62x51) rifle that would shoot either in semi auto mode or full automatic. It has no relationship to the M-16 either mechanically or in physical appearance. The M-16 was adopted in the early to mid 60's as a way to allow a soldier to carry more ammo, smaller roud = lighter weight. The civilian version of the M-16 that shoots the .223cal (5.56x?) ammunition is the AR15 as built by Colt and other manufacturers who produce knockoffs. Two totally different animals.
Oct 8, 2002 8:47 AM
I must have gotten the name wrong or the report was wrong? I know nothing about guns, so I would guess the report was wrong or I somehow coincidentally pulled M-14 out of the air and it's a real gun. Anyway, they said the civilian version of the M-16 and since that jives with it shooting the .223cal ammo that Allison stated, that must be the gun.
re: Any weapon experts out there?BikeViking
Oct 8, 2002 6:12 AM
Like all things, sniping is situation dependant. The Israelis have been known to use .22 rimfire to great effect in the urban environment (short ranges). The .223 Remington is a high velocity version of the .22 which increases ranges that the psychopath can shoot from. Much to the media's belief, it is not a hunting cartridge. Most states won't even allow you to hunt deer with it. It is primarily used as a varmint gun (coyotes, prarie dogs and woodchucks).

The US military typically uses rifles chambered for 7.62 x 51mm, which can reach out to 1000 yards in the hands of an experienced sniper. THe .50 Barret can hit targets in excess of one mile.

My thought is that this is the work of some deranged individual who has had some exposure/training with rifle shooting because he/she seems to shoot pretty well and cover their tracks.

It will be a great comfort to hear that the police have shot and killed this maniac. Anyone who pulls the trigger on innocents, especially CHILDREN, does not deserve to live
Oct 8, 2002 6:16 AM
it's not guns that kill people - it's people that kill people

yet another sad lesson on US gun culture
I was waiting for someone to trot out that old saw (nm)ColnagoFE
Oct 8, 2002 7:31 AM
I guess you agree with me there's alot of truth in old toolsMJ
Oct 8, 2002 7:59 AM
you can't kill someone from a mile away with a high powered assault knife
Old saw? Is it inaccurate?moneyman
Oct 8, 2002 8:04 AM
If so, how? A gun is an inanimate object that only does what it is told. It does not load, aim or fire itself. It is not inherently evil or good.

you keepMJ
Oct 8, 2002 8:14 AM
believing that while innocent people get picked off in DC

without guns like that widely available assault rifle snipers are less likely to shoot people - but that point makes too much sense for the Soldier 0f Fortune crowd...

as pointed out above - assault knifes don't have the same results...
And what about innocent peoplemoneyman
Oct 8, 2002 8:31 AM
Who get killed by drunk drivers? What is the difference? The feeling of terror? When my daughters are out driving around on a Friday night, I am terrified that they will be killed by a drunk driver. Is it as easy to buy a car and a six pack as it is to get a gun? Cars are widely available, as is beer. While neither one is evil, combining them with a driver who has no sense, and you have a lethal weapon that can pick off someone quite easily. And their are many more deaths due to drunk driving than to sniping, or any other deaths by firearms.

Please don't categorize me in the "Soldier of Fortune" crowd, whatever that means. I say let's outlaw guns AND cars AND beer AND knives AND baseball bats AND rope AND anything else that can possibly kill people. Gets a little ridiculous, doesn't it? Each of those items can be used to kill, but they won't kill unless the person wielding them wants to kill.

So is it the gun that is the cause of the problem or the availability of them or their misuse by sick individuals?

And what about innocent peopleMJ
Oct 8, 2002 8:54 AM
the difference between a car and any of the other useful items you mentioned is that they have uses besides the long range execution of (innocent) people (unless you have been watching Death Race 2000...)

if sick individuals couldn't get guns then they couldn't be used for their only designed purpose - it's really very simple

your point re cars is ridculous and self-evidently flawed
So self-protection, hunting or target shooting aren't...Wayne
Oct 8, 2002 9:12 AM
useful uses for guns? I would think guns are quite rarely used for "the long range execution of innocent people" probably less so than cars are used for maiming and killing of innocents by people who exercise poor judgement following the consumption of alcohol.
It remains irrefutable that a gun can not kill someone without a person to wield it, whereas a person can kill someone (perhaps not as easily) without a gun. Similarly drunk driving could not occur (or would at least be significantly less common) if people didn't have ready access to cars and alcohol. So when you get done banning guns will you start to work for prohibition in the interest of societal safety?
nope just gunsMJ
Oct 8, 2002 9:25 AM
exactly what protection is one offered from a high powered sniper rifle? - it only offers protection to militia members...

I do accept hunting (and target shooting) are perfectly legitimate, enjoyable sports - however, it seems perfectly acceptable to ban guns in light of these types of (regular) crimes in the US - this only made the news because the area is affluent and some white people are being shot

without access to guns it is not as easy to intentionally kill people - it is impossible to imagine any other weapon which enables a killer to reach this body count - people don't kill people randomly with knives (or cars, or anything else) - it's an entirely different type of crime

yes it is possible to kill people with cars following poor judgment with alcohol - but to equate guns and cars is ridiculous - if necessarry I can point out the pre-school logic of this fact
When you get done...Wayne
Oct 8, 2002 9:50 AM
pointing out the preschool logic of equating guns and cars go back and reread my post and see that I equated guns (I know I mentioned cars as well which probably confused you) and alcohol. It doesn't seem illogical to equate the two since people have used the same logic to argue for the banning of alcohol, that is, the cost to society is greater than the benefit that having it (them) somewhat readily available affords.
And please provide one example of someone going around sniping poor black people that got surpressed in the news, or even just provide the last time something similar to this happened. This seems like a pretty unique case of someone randomly and remotely killing people for no apparent reason, i think that is why the case has garnered national attention not because affluent white people are getting shot (and I'm pretty sure the kid that was shot was black or at least TV shots of the school seemed to show plenty of black kids and parents).
This is a pointless argumentColnagoFE
Oct 8, 2002 9:57 AM
I personally don't own guns but have when I was younger. Today with 2 kids in the house and living in a fairly safe neighborhood I figure the chances of needing a gun for protection are outweighed by the inherent danger of owning a gun. I also don't need to hunt since the grocery store serves my meat needs just fine.

I don't think you are going to convince anyone who is a strong 2nd ammendment proponent that they should give up their guns. You might as well take part in one of those long drawn out arguments on rec.bicycles.soc about whether people should be required to wear helmets or not. You'll get the same results. The same old tired arguments will be trotted out and nobody will convince anybody of anything.
And people will continue to die needlessly. (nm)czardonic
Oct 8, 2002 10:55 AM
It's really this simple...Wayne
Oct 8, 2002 11:48 AM
this guy could have taken his anger out on society in any number of ways. Probably having a gun that can shoot someone from a 100 yds away has made it easier. You don't therefore deprive millions of law abiding citizens of the right to use guns in ways that may provide them with endless hours of entertainment and joy and maybe every once in a while provides life/property saving protection. The price of living in a largely free society are incidents like this, or any alcohol related tragedies, or high speed accidents (surely we could fit all cars with a 65mph speed restrictor), or any number of other behaviors/freedoms that have societal costs associated with them.
alcohol and cars are more regulated than guns it seemsColnagoFE
Oct 8, 2002 12:23 PM
I'm not for the banning of guns. It just seems like it's pretty easy in the US for the average joe to get a hold of these specialized weapons. The NRA screams like a baby whenever any hint of regulation is suggested.
Fairly good debate on...Wayne
Oct 9, 2002 5:39 AM
crossfire last night. The pro-every-gun-no-regulation vs. no guns at all groups, which is almost always the polemic that you see in these debates (whether they admit to it or not) is so ridiculous. I think the vast majority of people fall well away from either extreme, which is probably for the best.
Not quite that simpleczardonic
Oct 8, 2002 12:43 PM
It is unlikely that this person would pick up a knife, kill 6 people and walk away without leaving a shred of evidence. Moreover, it is unlikely that he would even try. Killing someone from a 100 yards away is a lot differnent that engaging them from a distance where they can fight back. I bet there would be a lot fewer hunters if they had to kill their prey from within horn, hoof, claw or tooth range. Weapons that allow people to kill without risking their own personal safety allow more killers (of game or other humans) to participate in their respective "sports".

I agree that a certain level of risk must be tolerated in return for living in a free society. I don't think that being killed by someone too cowardly to face me one-on-one needs to be one of those risks.
It's really this simple...Pygme
Oct 8, 2002 2:52 PM
Dont forget to ban Tylenol, as well.
Yeah that stuff is hell on the liver...Wayne
Oct 9, 2002 5:34 AM
if you mix it with alcohol (I'm an ibuprofen man personally).
Sorry to have left the party earlymoneyman
Oct 9, 2002 6:03 AM
But I had to work. My point is not at all ridiculous, and I would be happy to have you tell me how it is "self-evidently flawed."

"Useful items" is quite a statement. Each of those items can be useful, yet each of them can be deadly. Just last week in Denver, a man was hit - intentionally - by a car driven by an angry man. The driver left the scene, while the man who was hit had to have his leg amputated. In this incident, the car was a weapon wielded by a nameless, faceless person, against a seemingly innocent individual.

What about the group of young people in Milwaukee who beat to death a 36 year old man with shovels, rakes and baseball bats? If only we had not allowed them to have such easy access to those weapons, that man would still be alive.

Guns and cars and baseball bats and shovels and rakes are inanimate objects. They only do what their operator makes them do. Whether it is good or bad, as defined by societal mores and norms, is up to the operator. Until we accept the fact that we as a society are so willing to absolve people of the consequences of their actions, we will continue to blame things as the perpetrators of evil.

One rather ironic thing is that Washington DC, and much of the surrounding area, have some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the country.

Surely the point isEager Beagle
Oct 9, 2002 6:49 AM
that cars have other legitimate uses.

High power rifles/sniper rifles don't - they are only there to do one thing, and that is shoot stuff.

So why tempt people by having loads of them readily available. We all need cars - it's the way life today is - we don't NEED rifles.
nice red herring (nm)ColnagoFE
Oct 8, 2002 9:46 AM
No...I meant the saying "guns dont kill people..."YAWNNN-nmColnagoFE
Oct 8, 2002 9:45 AM
This crime could not have been perpetrated without a gun.czardonic
Oct 8, 2002 9:45 AM
Period. What other device that is made as readily available could allow someone to kill 6 people in public with such impunity?

And how much venison will it take to justify the lost lives of these people?
A bomb.Miklos
Oct 9, 2002 12:14 PM
Geez, anybody remember the unibomber?

Good point, though availability is debatable. (nm)czardonic
Oct 9, 2002 3:55 PM
Oct 8, 2002 2:48 PM
Cars killed 45,000 people last year in the US. Lets get rid of them first.
1/2 the story.Eager Beagle
Oct 8, 2002 6:30 AM
You need to look at the ammo used - that is more telling of the nature of the firer - is it sniper standard (known to some as e.g. gold spot)?

With a decent sighting system, and a correctly zeroed weapon, hitting a person sized target at around 400m even with standard ammo is very easy indeed.
re: Any weapon experts out there?moneyman
Oct 8, 2002 7:49 AM
The .223 is really a hot .22, as someone else said. The difference is the shell casing, which allows for a lot more powder to push that little bullet (45 grains) at 2,800+ feet per second. Compare that to a typical big game rifle like a .30-06, and you can shoot a 165 grain bullet at 2,600 fps. The bigger, slower bullet makes a bigger hole when it hits it's target, but the trajectory is more of a rainbow at longer distance. A 300 yard shot with a .223 is much flatter and faster, and with good optics, like a high-quality 4x12 variable scope, makes the target easier to hit. Quite possible to hit and kill targets the size of a prairie dog at that distance. A 300 yard shot with a .30-06 is a much tougher shot, and making a killing shot on an animal the size of a deer or elk requires a excellent optics, a stable rest, and a great deal of skill that comes from lots of shooting practice.

I don't think that it takes much bravery to kill innocent people at random from a long way off, so your judgement of cowardice appears to be right on. I have no idea what would possess someone to do that.

re: Any weapon experts out there?jtkirk15
Oct 8, 2002 11:57 AM
Quick thought about the coward statement. Most likely the shooter is a coward, but what if the sniping is intentional? Which is more scary: an unseen sniper or a robber who approaches you face on? We would all think the sniper is more of a coward, but if his intent is to put fear in the public, he succeeds much better by sniping. So, this guy may be a wacko, or he could be very intentional in his methods to scare the living daylights out of parents and others. When called a coward, this guy probably just laughs and thinks to himself, catch me if you can, coward or not.

re: Any weapon experts out there?August West
Oct 8, 2002 12:13 PM
A coward, a loner, most likely socially inept. Probably realizing the rest of the world will always have it better than him, won't ever get a decent job or a girlfriend and now it's payback time.

Much like rape this is a power struggle with a powerless person. He started this by shooting vermin in up-county, now they're building million dollar houses all around there and it only makes him realize he'll be at Domino's forever.

This is his way of showing eh's someone to be noticed. And for the time being he will be, but he will be caught. Then like so many mice that scurry when the pet store owner pick one out for the snakes, we'll forget about him when he's gone. All but those who lost someone, only for them will this change anything. No new gunlaws or proceedures... you notice how the press reports one can still get knives on planes?
At any rate......Pygme
Oct 8, 2002 2:56 PM
The reason he is called a "coward" in public is simple.

It is not to challenge him to shoot again.

He wants recognition. He wants to be known in some sick twisted way that he was the "Maryland Serial Sniper." Calling him a coward is challening him to make himself known.
I don't follow the logic.czardonic
Oct 8, 2002 4:00 PM
Challenging him to make himself known how? Seems like disparaging his bravery will only encourage him to kill more people and perhaps target higher profile or armed targets. Unless they are challenging him to prove his bravery by facing the gas chamber. . .

I think the rhetoric is self-serving and counter productive any way you slice it.
I don't follow the logic.Pygme
Oct 8, 2002 6:45 PM
As a 12 year police veteran, I can tell you that there is so much you dont know. Have you ever dealt with a person like this (I have dealt with serial rapist/murders for manty years)? More importantly, you dont know what the police know right now. Any one of the thousands of phoned in tips may have a credible lead which can mean that thier "rhetoric" is indeed aimed at one person.

Have faith. These guys are professionals and deal with the criminal mind on a daily basis.

Dont forget, it was "rhetoric" like this that helped to catch the Avila the kidnapper/child rapist/murderer in California.
I don't follow the logic.Pygme
Oct 8, 2002 6:48 PM
As a 12 year police veteran, I can tell you that there is so much you dont know. Have you ever dealt with a person like this (I have dealt with serial rapist/murders for manty years)? More importantly, you dont know what the police know right now. Any one of the thousands of phoned in tips may have a credible lead which can mean that thier "rhetoric" is indeed aimed at one person.

Have faith. These guys are professionals and deal with the criminal mind on a daily basis.

It wont be long before this fool tells one of his trusted "friends" that he is "not a coward."
"Dear policeman, I am God."AllisonHayes
Oct 9, 2002 6:49 AM
So, does this tell us he is a control freak? As a professional, what do you make of his statement plus his use of a Tarot card?

To me, he is like a little boy who dresses up in fatigues and runs through the woods playing soldier, In his fantasy world, he decides who shall live and whom he shall kill.

Only now -- in a Maryland suburb -- this is no longer childs play. It is Ultimate control. Not God, just a twisted little mind that has no respect for anyone or anything.

What is unfortunate is that there will probably be more victims before he IS caught.
re: Any weapon experts out there?Ironbutt
Oct 8, 2002 3:28 PM
I'm not a qualified ballistics expert, but a long long time ago, far far away I wore a green suit and served in VietNam as a sniper. So I have some (albeit old) knowlege of the subject. The sniper is a sort of terrorist, taking targets of opportunity or specific targets as the case demands. There is little that is more demoralizing to the troops than to be standing peacefully around and having one of the boys just drop dead with a large hole in his head.

My weapon of choice during my service was a match grade M-14. The M-16 had a higher velocity projectile at the muzzle of the rifle, but because the bullet was so light it was much more affected by wind. Also, because of the small diameter it was difficult to design a bullet with a high ballistic coefficient, which is what allows the bullet to function effectively as a projectile. All bullets drop at the same rate, because gravity affects all objects in the same manner. But the light bullet, while travelling faster has less time to be affected by wind or other atmospheric conditions. The heavier bullet, with it's more efficient shape is moved about less by atmospheric conditions even though it takes more time to reach it's target. Hitting a target at 300 meters with a M-16 is quite a feat, while given equal sighting equipment such a shot with the M-14 was quite easy. The M-16 was specifically developed to enable the soldier to carry more ammunition, and to be easier to shoot due to the greatly reduced recoil commpared to either the M-14 or the M-1 Garand.

Currently, military and civilian snipers such as the FBI's Hostage Rescue Unit use civilian arms in whatever caliber the individual shooter prefers. Some tend to use the 7mm Remington Magnum, which is a very high velocity round for the bullet's weight and diameter. It is also extremely efficient from a ballistic standpoint, but has considerable recoil. Not a problem for an experienced, trained shooter. For really long range work, some choose weapons chambered for the .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun. Shots at over a mile with the .50BMG are possible.

From a personal standpoint, I keep weapons because I'm married, and the husband's job description includes protector as well as provider. Since I know what's out there in the world, I keep my weapon skills current.
War and PeaceAllisonHayes
Oct 9, 2002 6:38 AM
b In war...

i "The sniper is a sort of terrorist, taking targets of opportunity or specific targets as the case demands. There is little that is more demoralizing to the troops than to be standing peacefully around and having one of the boys just drop dead with a large hole in his head."

i "The military sniper operates on the principles of tracking, concealment, observation, and long range engagement. Generally, one quick shot is all that is needed, with a hasty retreat to follow."

In war, the sniper must be the most hated soldier the enemy faces -- yet he must be the ultimate hero: acting alone, placing himself in risky situations, and if caught, would face the worse kind of torture.

b And in peace...

Now we have this Maryland sniper, who selects his time and location and simply waits for a defenseless victim. Premediated, cunning, stealthy -- yet the ultimate cowardly act.

Such irony indeed!

(btw, thank you for your most informative post.)
keep some perspectiveDougSloan
Oct 9, 2002 7:27 AM
Remember that this is (or appears to be) one disturbed individual, out of 280 million people in the U.S. He is not representative of society in general, of gun owners, or, I doubt, of any other particular group to which we may find out he belongs or associates. Whether it be Hinkley, McVeigh, or the Unibomber, they are all sick people, maybe evil, who commit awful crimes.

Using these highly visable and isolated instances as opportunities to have anything "banned", I believe, is misplaced. While the argument can be made that each could not have done what they did without their instrumentalities -- fertilizer, small handgun, rifle (which is a truism), what's to say they would not have found another way to kill?

These crimes are horrible. Nonetheless, I think it is unfortunate that some people exploit them in an attempt to further a pre-existing agenda.