Authorities have identified the weapons U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan used to carry out his murderous assault at Fort Hood as a FN Five-seveN pistol and an older model Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver. Initial accounts indicated that only the Five-seveN was used. Hasan fired an estimated 100+ times in the five-minute span from the start of the shooting spree until a civilian police officer at the base put him down with four shots from her own weapon.
Thirteen died and 30 were wounded Hasan’s Nov. 5 attack. It was the worst attack ever on a stateside military base. Predictably, media in the United States and overseas have reacted with breathless horror at the news Hasan used a weapon they’ve deemed a “cop killer” and “an assault rifle that fits in your pocket.” Few things could be further from the truth.
What’s the truth? It may not come as a surprise that the media is wrong yet again, but the reason why may be surprising. Ironically, more of the wounded soldiers are possibly alive today because of Hasan’s media-hyped choice of weapons.
The Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (FN Herstal) Five-SeveN pistol chosen by Hasan for his assault was produced for the first time just over a decade ago as a companion to the FN P90, a unique personal defense weapon first produced in 1990 and chambering a new 5.7x28mm cartridge. The SS190 5.7x28mm cartridge shared by the P90 carbine and Five-seveN pistol was specifically designed to be more effective than the pistol caliber rounds used for most of the previous century by using a small-diameter, high-velocity, armor-piercing bullet that could penetrate the soft body armor increasingly being used by enemy soldiers, terrorists, and criminals.
The Five-SeveN pistol was released to the U.S. civilian market in 2004. Shortly thereafter, the Brady Campaign and a trio of anti-gun law enforcement organizations made the claim that the gun was a “cop killer.” This claim was based upon a misrepresentation of marketing materials discussing the pistol’s capabilities using SS190 armor-piercing ammunition and non-certified “tests” that were contradicted by more stringent and controlled testing done by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF).