Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sensationalism much?

Any firearm related mishap is serious, inasmuch as most are avoidable if proper handling protocol is strictly observed.  However, this news story seems a bit weak when it comes to facts and context. The 12-gauge "bullet"?

C'mon, is it too much to expect news readers to at least have some kind of desk reference to keep from sounding like total idiots?

As far as context, I'm sure many of the readers of this blog would be aware that pheasants are typically hunted with shells loaded with #4, #5 (somewhat uncommon size, but I've used them before), or #6 shot.

The smaller pellets, like 7-1/2 to 9, are typical for dove or quail, while larger pellets BB through #1, 2, and 3, are common for duck and geese hunting.  #4 could be used for ducks or pheasants.

Using the midrange (#5) and assuming 1-1/4 oz. loads, we would expect a bit over 200 pellets in the charge.  Further assuming use of an improved cylinder or modified choke and typical dispersion, one could estimate (based on the 15 pellets) a distance from the father's muzzle to his son's head at about 18-24 yards.  Absent a perforation of the jugular or carotid artery, as alluded in the news story, this is not likely to be a life-threatening wound (for expert discussion on gunshot wounds, I would have to defer to field editor Combat Kevin).

Now, before I sound like an idiot, I am in no way trivializing this accident afield.  Firearms safety - whether centerfire rifle, shotgun, blackpowder, or rimfire - or even archery or pea-shooters - is always paramount.  The son's life may not have been seriously threatened, but the reporter is correct in saying that different projectiles (larger pellets, or slugs) fired from the same gun at the same distance, could've had drastically different outcomes.  As well, eye protection is always prudent - even a small pellet at considerable distance could put an eye out.

About fifteen years ago, a wealthy scion peckerwood had been invited to join our pheasant hunt in NW Kansas.  He arrived with a Benelli pistol-grip shotgun with an 8 round magazine tube extending to the muzzle (while this is totally legal for non-migratory birds such as pheasants, it's, uh, not so sporting) that he'd just bought at Oshman's a day or two earlier.  A couple of times that hunt, the guy emptied that magazine, and two or three times he rained some shot down on his fellow hunters - no injuries, but he did chip the eyeglasses of a guy who was walking nearest to me.  Ronald Reagan would've been right to tell us to 'duck' - this fellow's sense of shooting angles was a bit like Dick Cheney's.

He wasn't invited back.

So, returning to the question posed in this post's headline - sensationalism, or no?  Looking past the style errors of the reporter, any reminder to use proper precautions with firearms is a good lesson.

Let's all be careful out there...


RPM said...

I think you linked the wrong video. Without seeing the story it's hard to comment, but it's likely more ignorance on the reporters part than bias, altho I suspect there's a portion of that as well.

Most "journalists" are city dwellers that had little or no exposure to hunting and guns growing up. The closest they've come to hunting is watching Bambi. They don't know a bullet from a shell, or more commonly a semi-automatic from a full automatic.

The Donald said...

Thanks for the heads-up. Apparently the video won't play on this domain, so I just inserted a link instead.

I agree that the issue was one of ignorance, not bias, but I'd think they might expose them to some sort of reference material in J-school.

el chupacabra said...

Yeah, they're ignorant but also sensationalizing something they're opposed to (guns) to cast them in a negative light.
It is funny to me when something like this happens writers wring their hands in holy horror while down here we don't think anything of it. I literally cannot tell you how many people I know who have been accidentally struck by shotgun pellets while hunting- myself included.

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