There are a lot of mistruths and misinformation centered around America’s great gun debate. But a new one emerged after Uvalde, and it might be the worst so far:
It cannot be emphasized enough, however, exactly what the AR-15 is: It is a weapon of war. It was made to blow humans apart. It is successful in doing just that. The requests for DNA tests in Uvalde stand as a testament to the gun’s success, but the conclusion that the weapon excelled at blowing people apart was well documented by the U.S. military itself during early field tests.
This ridiculous claim was made by Murtaza Hussain, who said the Uvalde victims “were so grievously injured that it was likely impossible to identify their bodies,” because they were shot with an AR-15.
Hussain is basing his claims on a wild presumption that he made because Uvalde authorities asked parents for DNA samples to establish the identities of the children who had been killed inside the school.
But Hussain is certainly not alone. He’s joined by none other than the likes of President Joe Biden:
The damage was so devastating in Uvalde, parents had to do DNA swabs to identify the remains of their children — 9- and 10-year-old children.
And The Washington Post:
A shot fired from a handgun might enter and exit the torso cleanly; it might miss vital organs. Bullets fired from an AR-15 are akin to an explosion within the body. They cause maximum damage. The family of those killed in Uvalde were asked to provide DNA samples to identify the victims. There was maximum damage.
And a host of others.
All of these assumptions are based on a request made by the Uvalde justice of the peace, Eulalia Diaz, for DNA samples from parents.
We don’t know why Diaz made that request, which is presumably unusual even in mass shootings. The closest we come to an explanation is from the New York Post:
The process of identifying the children was excruciating, because Diaz noted that “children don’t carry IDs, they don’t have name badges.”
Many of the bodies were in bad shape, having been riddled with bullets. Diaz tried to spare the parents as much pain as possible, hoping to positively identify the murdered children through descriptions their parents gave of clothing they wore to school that day, or from photos parents showed him.
If any of the bodies were “riddled with bullets,” that would certainly make sense that they were unrecognizable. And it certainly makes sense that at least some of the bodies might have been riddled with bullets, since we know that police left the gunman behind a locked door with the children and their teachers for more than an hour, giving him time to inflict maximum damage.
However, what should go without being said is that almost any firearm — rifle or handgun, regardless of caliber — can be used to render a victim unrecognizable if enough bullets are fired into the body. But that’s not the argument that’s being made in the aftermath of Uvalde. The argument that’s being crafted from the DNA request is that you need DNA to identify someone after they’re shot with an AR-15. I’ve heard the claim repeated from multiple people in the past week. And, quite frankly, it’s bullshit.
It’s the kind of argument that will go over well with people who know little or nothing about firearms — which is exactly who the argument is intended for. The entire argument of any form of political lobbying is to convince enough people of your point of view that Congress is forced to act. And that’s why it’s important that gun owners do their part to educate the non-gun-owning public on the realities of firearms. Because we certainly cannot rely on the mainstream media to do it.
Anyone who is familiar with firearms knows that the .223 — the standard caliber of an AR-15 rifle — is actually a very small round. It’s illegal to use to hunt big game animals in some states precisely because it can’t be relied on to efficiently put down an animal cleanly if the shot isn’t placed correctly. Does that sound like the sort of gun that would render a victim unrecognizable? Of course not.
It cannot (and should not) be denied that a .223 is a high-velocity round that can cause a lot of damage. However, that leads to another basic point of firearms: A bullet causes its most significant damage INSIDE the body — between the entrance and exit. The entrance wound itself is roughly the size of the bullet — meaning that someone shot by an AR-15 is certainly not going to be unrecognizable. The exit wound tends to be slightly larger, and in some cases can be significantly larger, depending on the path the bullet takes through the body. But, again, it’s certainly not going to render someone unrecognizable. (Don’t believe me? Google it.)
Inside the body, yes, a .223 bullet fired from an AR-15 can cause devastating damage to organs and arteries — much moreso than a handgun, which is relatively low-velocity by comparison. However, what you aren’t likely to see mentioned by people who use this fact as a reason for banning AR-15s is that virtually any rifle is a high-velocity firearm that will cause devastating damage inside the body — and a lot of them are shooting projectiles that are much larger than the .223 bullet that comes from an AR-15. Why isn’t this mentioned? Because, typically, people who lobby for the AR-15 to be banned believe there’s momentum for convincing lawmakers to ban the AR-15, while they correctly realize that calling for the banning of all rifles would be an overreach that Americans would never stand for. So instead of making an argument that’s based on facts, they make an argument that appeals to emotion.
I’m here to tell you that if banning AR-15s would stop mass murders in America, I’d be first on board to write a letter to my congressman. But it won’t. And that’s why it’s important that we debate this issue with facts, not emotion.
So, in closing: If you want to call for AR-15s to be banned, that’s your right. But don’t make ludicrous arguments to back up your point, like saying that someone shot with an AR-15 has to be identified by DNA. And if you don’t want AR-15s to be banned, do all law-abiding gun owners a favor and educate the non-gun-owning public who are being duped by politicians and the news media.