An Open Letter to the Folks Who Fact Check Gun Reporting at the Associated Press

This is what happens when people who do not know anything about guns write news stories about guns.

The Associated Press has issued a correction regarding its reporting on the biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas.

Here is their statement:

In a story June 6 about a shootout involving bikers in Waco, The Associated Press reported erroneously that witnesses said the sound of semi-automatic gunfire dominated the shootout. They said the shootout was dominated by what sounded like short bursts of automatic gunfire. The AP also erroneously reported that a semi-automatic weapon can shoot more bullets in less time than a small-caliber weapon. The story should have said that an automatic weapon can fire multiple rounds more quickly than a semi-automatic weapon.

Here is some (simplified) information about guns for the folks at the Associated Press (and for you experts; yes, I know this process can get very technical and intricate. I'm just trying to help out the press with some general gun knowledge.)

An automatic weapon will fire bullets as long as the trigger is pulled backwards and held in the backwards position. Automatic guns are HIGHLY , HIGHLY regulated and usually very expensive. You will probably not find an automatic weapon at a crime scene.

A semi-automatic weapon will fire a bullet EACH TIME the trigger is pulled backwards. Semi-automatic weapons are legal in most places in the US. (I'm looking at you, California.)

The caliber of the ammunition used by a weapon refers to the diameter of the bullet. The diameter of the bullet needs to be the same as diameter as the gun bore.

The gun bore is the inside of a gun barrel. Again, the bullet needs to be the right size for the gun bore.

The caliber of ammunition is not related to the action of the gun.

The action of the gun refers to the way in which the bullet is delivered into the gun. There are small caliber semi-automatic weapons like my Ruger Mark II, which is chambered in 22 but has a semi-automatic action, or like the 22 cal UZI on my birthday wishlist. There are large caliber revolvers like a Smith and Wesson 500, which is chambered in 50 cal.

The action of a gun can be entirely manual, as is the case with a revolver where the force needed to pull back the trigger and hammer is what is putting the bullet into the gun chamber. (The gun chamber is the part of the gun that accepts the bullets or, in the case of a revolver, the chamber consists of the little holes where you insert the bullets before closing it and preparing to fire or conceal.)

The action of a gun can be semi-automatic, where there is some mechanical "help" putting the bullet in the chamber but which still requires a trigger pull for each bullet fired.

Or it can be an entirely automatic process where depressing the trigger will spray bullets out of the gun.

Shotguns do not fire bullets -- they fire shot shells, which are cartridges full of lead (or steel) pellets.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has a nice guide for people who write about firearms and the firearms industry or, as the MSM refers to it, "crime." It can be found here. Bookmark it.

Feel free to ad your own advice for the AP in the comments.

Also read: 

What Is It About 'Progressives' and Guns?