Sheriff’s Deputy Killed in Shootout

MCSO BadgeThis morning, William Coleman, a 20-year veteran deputy of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, was killed in a shootout with a burglary suspect.  While this loss of a deputy is certainly tragic news, especially for his loved ones, I wouldn’t normally find myself feeling the need to write a blog about it.

Today, however, I found myself a little tweaked by the following statement made by Sheriff Joe Arpaio during an interview on the shooting:

“The suspect carried a semiautomatic rifle,” Arpaio said. “Coleman wore a vest, but such vests are no match for such weaponry,” he said.

In my opinion, what the Sheriff said is, at best, a flub.  At worst, it is irresponsible.  I’m just not sure which.  I certainly hope it was just a poor choice of words.

All that “semiautomatic” means is that a shooter has to pull the trigger once for each round fired, with the firing action clearing and reloading the chamber.  It doesn’t mean “machine gun” (i.e., automatic) or “select-fire” (i.e., has the option for auto or semi-auto).  It doesn’t mean “big scary gun that randomly sprays bullets at nuns and orphans.”  Nor does it mean “shoots through schools.”  In this instance, it seems to me that calling a rifle “semiautomatic” is really no more responsible or accurate than calling it an “assault” rifle (which really only means “really scary-looking” to the public).

I hope that the Sheriff is not using “semiautomatic” in the way that the media often uses it (i.e., as a multi-syllabic buzzword designed to scare the shit out of an already hoplophobic public).  I don’t imagine a lot of burglars are using bolt-action rifles or muzzle-loaded Revolutionary War relics these days.

HackerHaus’ Rule of Thumb: The more syllables used to describe a firearm, the more afraid you are supposed to be.  Which sounds scarier?  “Pistol” or “Semiautomatic Hand-Cannon?”

Is the Sheriff actually suggesting that such vests are useless against pretty much all rifles?  Or was this just a slip of the tongue?  Was he actually referring to the high-powered or penetrating qualities of the ammunition used?

A gun being “semiautomatic” has nothing to do with the penetrating power of the ammunition, nor do scary looks equal “dangerous.”  I really hope the Sheriff a) knows this and b) isn’t trying to use inflamed rhetoric to scare the citizens of Maricopa county.

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