The Newtown Rifle, And Ammo

Newtown Rifle

The AR-15-type rifle, like the rifle used in the recent Newtown school massacre of young children and adults, is an extremely popular firearm. So popular, in fact, that approximately 1.5 million were manufactured in the past five years. According to an ABC report, that’s one assault-type rifle per 209 Americans.

Bushmaster is the company name of one manufacturer of firearms and accessories. It was one of their rifles that Adam Lanza used last week to slaughter innocent children and adults. I have to say, though, that the brand name of the rifle had nothing to do with the murders. It could have just as easily been a rifle made by any of the other manufacturers.

To see and learn how these rifles operate, you can visit the Bushmaster website for a complete listing of Bushmaster products. While there, you may also visit an interactive demonstration of how the rifle works. Click the link below to view the Bushmaster rifle demo. Once on the site, I suggest clicking on the “glass” view to see the internal workings of the weapon as it cycles through the loading of the magazine and firing of a round.

The .223 caliber round is an ammunition of choice for these “assault rifles.”

Guns America image

There are many types and brands of ammunition on the market. For example, Dynamic Research Technologies (DRT) manufactures a .223 round (bullet) that has the appearance of a standard bullet on the outside, but internally is like no other. In fact, a Guns America article states, “Through hard surfaces, from bone to sheetrock to windshields, the DRT rounds apparently behave like any other .223 round. But 2″ into liquid or organic matter, they come apart and fill the wound channel with a small cyclone of spinning powder. This completely disables the target, causing an immediate loss of blood pressure and overwhelming trauma.”

By the way, the organic matter stated in the paragraph above…well, that’s a nice way of referring to flesh and blood.

How deadly is .223 ammo? One hunter needed only a single shot from a distance of 179 yards to kill a 350 pound wild boar. So, what would that same round do to a 45lb. human target, at close range?

Here’s another fact about .223 ammunition of any kind or brand: Those children and school employees in Newtown never had a chance.

I know nothing about DRT. Theirs was the first name I came across when researching this article. There are many more. Also, I have no idea of the brand or type ammo used in the Newtown shooting.

Here’s a couple of questions for all of you. Do you think magazine capacity should be limited to fewer rounds? Would it make a difference if they were?

*By the way, this article is not intended as a discussion about gun control. Instead, it is for informational purposes to assist writers who seek to bring an added level of realism to their stories. So you can stop the hate mail. I’m not biting. I do, however, wish there was a solution to the worldwide violence problem.

Top photo – ABC

20 replies
  1. Michelle Butler
    Michelle Butler says:

    I grew up in rural Illinois. I’ve got no problem with hunting. Deer meat. Yum! Given the growing meth problem, I’m glad my dad keeps a gun.

    But I also have a first-grader. And I’ll tell you what, it is horridly easy to imagine being the parents flocking to your school because something dreadful has happened. I look at the size of those .223 bullets, think about them ripping up an itty-bitty body–and I have real difficulty understanding why guns that shoot such big bullets need to be circulating in civilian society. We’ve always recognized a distinction between what is appropriate for only-military use and what’s acceptable for the general populace. I think we need to move that line over a notch or two.

  2. April Henry
    April Henry says:

    I know someone who was at the Clackamas Mall and witnessed the shootings there, so the Sandy Hook shootings were even more horrifying.

    I do think magazine capacity should be limited to fewer rounds. I also think there should be more funding for mental health, and that it should be easier to evaluate someone. In Oregon, at least, you have to prove that there is imminent danger, and the definition of that is very strict. When you try to get help, you are stymied.

    The nation right now seems primed to listen. Is there an organization that speaks for cops?

    And for anyone who lives in Oregon, there is a FATS simulator in Tualatin. I had just bought the person who works at Clackamas Mall a gift certificate there. I’m not sure how he will feel about facing down an imaginary armed shooter after his recent experience.

  3. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    For those people who own firearms for self-defense purposes, I highly recommend shooting a firearms simulator training course, like the one we feature at the Writers’ Police Academy (FATS/Meggitt). You’ll never actually know if you have what it takes to pull the trigger when the time comes unless you do. Shooting at paper targets is not even close to this sort of heart-pounding training.

    Firearms training simulators place you in shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. It’s extremely realistic.

  4. Nancy D.
    Nancy D. says:

    Hey, Chris,

    I’m in agreement. I am completely in favor of having my right to carry contingent on some sort of annual re-certification, including a psych eval at my expense. Yes, I see opportunity for abuse, but I still think it’s worth doing. I did have to take a gun safety course in order to obtain an LTC, and I think it’s a reasonable requirement.

    Our guns are unloaded and locked away – all but one. That one sits on my nightstand and has sat there for two years. I handle it weekly – remind myself where the safety is, how to turn on the laser sight, how to chamber a round – do it in the dark.

    We live in a rural town with the occasional mountain lion and only 2 full-time police officers. Two years ago, high school students from the town next to ours went into a home and assaulted a mother and daughter with a machete. The mom died, but the child survived – played dead even as she was slashed and kicked – and was able to ID her attackers.

    We’re not nuts. We’re not in love with our guns. But we did put in a stairway alarm, and we did put that gun on the nightstand. I hope the alarm will send an intruder running. If not, it at least wakes me up and allows me to reach for the gun and take a deep breath. I hope the laser dot will be a sufficient deterrent. I hope I never have to fire it at anything other than a paper target.

    I’m not afraid without the gun, but I think it’s reasonable to have it – evens the odds a bit.

  5. Chris Bailey
    Chris Bailey says:

    Back to the topic: the Newtown shooter wasn’t going after a tyrannical government. We can probably all agree that he was not emotionally/mentally stable. Limiting ammunition to put obstacles in the way of a mass murderer is a rational regulation, but even more important would be training and testing. What if gun permits required at least as much testing as getting a driver license? A safety class at the local firing range; a field test; even a graduated license. Regular renewals and inspections. Maybe a set of obstacles would allow concerned self-preservationists to own a serious arsenal, but would help us identify unstable individuals and deny gun ownership to them. Maybe the murder trial I sat in last year would have been unnecessary–a young man bought a handgun at a pawn shop for personal protection, and a year later killed his wife during an argument. Did he really need a gun intended for shooting wild boar to protect his home? Might a series of classes have saved his wife, kept him out of prison, and kept their three children out of foster care?

    i don’t know. The problems will be: lawsuits; cost of enforcement; lawbreakers. Regulations won’t stop criminals, but that’s no reason to stop trying.

    Thanks for opening the discussion, Lee.

  6. Liberty Speidel
    Liberty Speidel says:

    Currently, in my household, we own two guns: a 12-gauge shotgun, and a .270 hunting rifle. Initially, when I learned what “assault” rifles were, I thought, “Who’d want that?” But in addition to going out for hunting and target shooting, there’s another reason for having one–one the Founders intended–and that’s if our government gets too tyrannical and we have to defend ourselves against it. Call me a loony, but the people are the last line of defense against a tyrannical government, and we may be called on in the future to defend our Constitution and our freedoms.

  7. Chris
    Chris says:

    The deadliest school shooting occurred in Bath, Michigan in 1927. The killer planted explosives at his farm and the school. After setting off an explosion at his farm, he drove to the school as the explosives went off there. He then set off additional explosives in his car–filled with discarded metal that acted like schrapnel. The violence killed 46 people, mainly school children and injured 55. One shot was fired with a pump action rifle–to set off the explosives in the truck.

  8. J. R. Lindermuth
    J. R. Lindermuth says:

    Mass killers, whether they be terrorists or nut jobs like this guy, are all cowards. That’s why they choose a multi-firing weapon to use against unarmed victims. For hundreds of years when hunting was a necessity for survival and not a sport, hunters successfully managed with single-shot weapons. Unless you’re up against a similarly armed opponent, so one “needs” a multi-round weapon.

  9. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Bob…but we’re not talking about a bomber. Different things entirely. Instead, we’re talking about someone who chooses to take a firearm into a public place to intentionally shoot innocent people. If the guy in Newtown had wanted to blow up the school, well, I’m sure he’d have done so. He certainly had the intelligence, determination, and access to money to pull it off.

    Besides, in the case of the bombing you mentioned the killer had to make his weapon from an assortment of items that are used in the course of our daily lives. And, those items are not intended to cause death. Firearms and ammunition are available ready-made, for the purpose in which they’re used…to shoot something—wild animals, targets, or, in self-defense from another human.

  10. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Sally, I understand your passion, but most folks who purchase these rifles enjoy using them for target shooting, and for hunting. For avid shooters, it’s a lot of fun to fire those guns at legitimate targets in controlled settings.

    To be fair, shooters who kill are sort of in the same boat as drunk drivers or people who purposely use cars to kill. The difference here is that the vehicle becomes a weapon.

    Anyway, we all like to drive, and do so responsibly. But there are those who choose to break the law by driving drunk or recklessly. BUT, we have strict laws controlling driving and drinking, etc. We don’t have laws limiting weapons, ammunition, and their use, with the exception of fully automatics, sawed-odd shotguns, and a few others.

    I see no real harm in limiting magazine capacity to lower numbers, other than it’s super-irritaing to have to stop and load while you’re on a bulls-eye-roll at the range. Although, what’s to stop the bad guys from simply purchasing 10, 10-round magazines to make up the difference in the one 100 round magazine he can buy today?

  11. Steven T.
    Steven T. says:

    I don’t know how many times the gunman had to stop to reload, but if he had a 30 round magazine and used four of them, how many more kids and teachers would have had a chance to escape if he had a 5 round magazine? I don’t say to take him out, I say to crawl out a window or run out a back door.

    I’ve never ever been in a firefight, never fired a gun. I suspect however, that if there were an officer responding and they had to face a gunman with a 30 round magazine, they’d really wish it were a 5 round magazine instead.

  12. Bob
    Bob says:

    What about Oklahoma City…No guns…fertilizer and gasoline. Maybe we should ban them too. If he had used explosives in Newtown there might have been 600 dead instead of 26. It is not the weapon, it is the deranged individual.

  13. Larry Marshall
    Larry Marshall says:

    Lee’s point is the important one. Those who claim that guns don’t kill people need to think about “less than 10 minutes.” Most weapons don’t permit the most crazed killer to kill 26 people in that amount of time. Heck, many guns don’t either. And the notion that you want teachers firing back in a room filled with kids is just insane.

  14. Sally Carpenter
    Sally Carpenter says:

    Why on earth does any civilian need an assault weapon? If a person wants to collect guns, there’s plenty of single-shot and antique models available. The only people who buy assault rifles and multiple rounds of ammo are those out to murder many people. As for an armed teacher–oh really? A teacher’s standing in the front of the classroom and the killer enters through the back door. How many frightened, confused teachers will be able to go to the cabinet where the gun is stored, unlock the cabinet, removed the gun, load it, aim at a moving target with a room full of screaming and crying children in the line of fire, and take out the killer with a single shot? Of course the killer is just standing still and waiting for teacher to shoot. Likewise the children are all sitting quietly and not running around. And an armed officer might be on the other side of the campus, giving the shooter plenty of time to kill before the cop catches up with him. And if people know guns are stored at a school, how many criminals will try to break into the building to steal the weapons? Turning schools into prison camps is not the answer.

  15. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Well, Diva, that’s not entirely the way it is. I don’t believe a single person, say in the case of the Va. Tech shooting, could use a hammer to kill nearly three dozen grown people. At some point, he’d swing at someone who’d make him eat that hammer. Besides, you can run from a guy with a hammer. You can’t outrun a bullet.

    And, just another thought, I believe using weapons, such as knives and others of that type, would make the killing too close and personal for some of these mass killers. Using a firearm, though, allows the murderer to maintain a bit of distance from his victim. And, of course, a firearm allows for more victims in a much shorter amount of time.

    I agree, though, that guns are not the root of the problem. They’re simply the easiest means of carrying out the killings.

  16. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Think back to the movie theater shooting. I believe the killer there had a 100 round magazine. If he’d been limited to a bolt-action rifle, then he would have only been able to fire rounds one at a time, and then only after manually ejecting and chambering rounds one at a time. The same would have been true in Newtown.

    Just a thought. I’m not saying I’m for or against the idea. Of course, there’ll always be a black market for extended magazines and whatever else people want, but it would be more difficult for the average person to get their hands on them.

    Again, I’m not saying I’m for or against the idea. I’m merely asking for opinions.

  17. GunDiva
    GunDiva says:

    I’m against limiting magazine capacity. But, then, I’m against limiting guns, too. See, I know that an “assault rifle” (the term as used by the media) is nothing more than a semi-automatic rifle with some cosmetic changes. For less than $200, you can transform a “harmless” Ruger 10/22 into an “assault rifle” just by changing its appearance.

    We need to look at the root cause of this tragedy, not the implement chosen by the killer to carry it out. The root cause has *nothing* to do with high cap mags or “assault rifles”. This would be no less tragic if he had chosen to stab his victims to death or bludgeon them with a hammer. It’s not the tool that is the problem.

  18. Christopher Mitchell
    Christopher Mitchell says:

    Smaller magazine? No. Even an armed officer at the school would have needed to be near the front of the building to be effective. Then, you might have kept the carnage to the adults.

    We still need a way to identify and isolate dangerous people, even for the minimum 72-96 hour evaluation period, even if they are adults. At least treatment can get started and a storm can pass.

  19. Liberty Speidel
    Liberty Speidel says:

    Personally, I don’t think it would’ve made a difference. The only thing that would have would have been an armed teacher or cop on school grounds to take out this guy before he really got started.

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