Friday, December 11, 2009

Media and Machine Guns

This morning I heard about a shooting where (according to the radio) a man pulled a "Mac 10 machine gun" on police, and was shot and killed when his gun jammed. Several other reports talked about the gun, " a machine pistol capable of firing thousands of rounds per minute"

I doubted it was actually a machine gun.  I finally found an article that mentioned the actual gun in detail.
The model Raymond Martinez was carrying Thursday was a semi-automatic variation called the Masterpiece Arms 9-mm

The gun in question was not a machine gun. Rather, it was a semiautomatic copy of a Mac 10 machine pistol with a 30 round magazine. Bulky and awkward, poor quality and inaccurate.  One shot per trigger pull.  Scary looking, but virtually every modern 9mm is smaller, lighter, less bulky, more ergonomic, more reliable and more accurate.  Many have available 30 round magazines.

Even the actual machine gun version is not capable of firing thousands of rounds per minute--After a few seconds to empty the 30 round magazine, the gun is empty.  If you had the 34 magazines needed to fire 1000 rounds and switched them as quickly as possible the gun would overheat and malfunction before you were finished. 

One of the clues was "purchased from a dealer".  A true Mac 10 costs around $4000 used, requires an extensive background check and a $200 federal transfer fee.  A non-machine gun copy is around $400 new. 


  1. Unfortunately, the phrase "semi-automatic piece of machine-stamped junk" just does not have the emotional impact of "machine gun pistol capable of mowing down thousands of unarmed children", and, as such, the media and hoplophobes alike (but I repeat myself) naturally gravitate towards the latter.

    Facts be damned. If it sells better, it obviously is better.

  2. America used to trust the media--there might be bias on the editorial page, and possibly in which sories were chosen to cover but we expected the facts to be accurate.

    I've heard more than one person say that in every case where they have first hand knowledge of a newsworthy event, the news got fundamental facts significantly wrong. My experience is similar.

    What I wonder is what changed--Has professional journalism always sucked this bad, but until recently we had no alternative source to check facts?

  3. Honestly, I think the biggest thing is the availability of information these days. For an amusingly topical example, my parents were 100% on-board with the previous incarnation of the "assault weapon ban", because those guns are only used for killing people, and all of the other talking points so diligently parroted by the media.

    Last visit, Dad and I went shooting at a range out their way, and he is looking forward to coming back here so he can play with my AR-15.

    10 years ago, the voting revolution in Iran would have hardly made a blip on our collective radars, given that the media chose not to cover it.

    Yellow journalism caught on all those years ago (thanks to an unfortuate long-lost relative of mine), and its roots have gone deep. It is only recently that we have been able to plumb their full depths.

  4. Anonymous6:41 PM

    Actually, you're quite wrong.

    You're of the mistaken premise that all "machine guns" involve a weapon that involves many rounds pouring out of the barrel so long as the trigger is pulled. In reality, a machine gun is a term of art and means any weapon that can be modified to full auto.

    In this case, the MAC 10 (another term of art like calling all cola drinks "coke") is classed as a submachine gun.

    HTH, JadeGold

  5. Jadegold:

    Sometime in the early 1980's, the ATF ruled (correctly, IMO) that open-bolt semiautomatics were "readily convertible" to full auto, and going forward, newly-manufactured open-bolt semiautos would fall under the same restrictions as full auto. The original semiauto Mac 10's were open bolt, but the gun in question was one of the later closed-bolt copies.

    I don't remember the exact wording, but "readily convertable" isn't the same thing as "machine gun" in English.

  6. The media will conflate "machine gun" with semi-auto anything as often as possible.

    They've been doing it for years.

  7. With enough machining virtually any semi-auto firearm could conceivably be altered to fire full-auto. (though not with any degree of reliability)

    That doesn't mean all semi-auto's are "machine guns."