Hollywood mostly stories when it comes to guns

In last month’s column I mentioned some of the crazy statements I’ve heard from other gun owners.

It was well received so I decided to expand on that theme and mention some of the completely outrageous gun-related foul-ups I’ve seen and heard in the media.

The first is from one of my favorite family of movies: “Die Hard.” In the second movie the hero smugly announces in the security office at the airport that the bad guys have brought in “Glock 7s, the porcelain pistol made in Germany. They don’t show up on metal detectors!” If that’s not an exact quote it’s pretty darned close.

Everything about that statement is wrong except the bad guys did, in fact, have Glocks. There is no Glock 7 pistol; they are made in Austria; and they most certainly will set off a metal detector, as they have a huge amount of steel in them.

As an aside, they also show up very distinctly as a firearm on an X-ray. If someone actually figures out how to make a gun out of something other than metal, it will still have to fire metal ammo, so the whole idea is preposterous.

Another Glock-related reference I see regularly in crime dramas is that the crime scene wizards will show up, pick up some empty shell casings, take them back to their lab and declare that the murder weapon was either a Glock or a Beretta.

I have no idea why it’s always a Glock or a Beretta, but it’s extremely easy to tell if a casing was fired in a Glock. These pistols have a rectangular-shaped firing pin by cross-section (which is much stronger than a round one) and leave a corresponding rectangular indentation in the cartridge’s primer.

Berretta, SIG, S&W, etc. will all have a conventional hemispherical indentation, which you actually would have to send to a firearms lab to sort out.

I also see gun traces done all of the time on these CSI-type shows. They can always trace them and it takes a few minutes to a couple of hours to do.

In reality, most firearms are all but impossible to “trace” and the ones that can be take weeks to months to actually track down. On TV, though, they find handguns that have been used in multiple crimes all over the United States – sometimes, the world.

I guess it’s entertainment and not to be taken seriously.

Then I have a whole batch of TV/movie myths about “assault rifles.”

First off, assault rifles are, by definition, fully automatic. No semi-auto is an assault rifle/weapon.

I’ve seen entirely too many news reports and TV/movies that have called semi-autos “assault rifles.” Changing a semi-auto to full-auto is also fairly difficult and cannot be done by “filing down the sear,” as I’ve heard multiple times.

These so-called assault rifles are usually called “high-powered” assault rifles in the same breath, as well.

The AK-47 shoots a cartridge that is not even as powerful as a 30-30. Ask any hunter and they will tell you that even the 30-30 is on the bottom rung of power for hunting rifles.

The AR-15/M-16 has substantially less power than that.

There is a class of rifle called “battle rifles” that are quite powerfull and use cartridges of .308, .30-06 and 8mm classes, which are  all high-powered rounds. Battle rifles can be semi- or full-auto but are extremely hard to controll in full-auto fire in most cases and are mostly fired in much more accurate semi-automatic mode.

When machine guns are fired on movies they don’t kick at all. There is a huge muzzle flash, they never run out of ammo and the accuracy is amazing.

Consult with anyone who has real life experience with select-fire weapons and they will tell you of the fallacies shown in the media.

The cyclic rate of these weapons is anywhere from 400 to 1,300 rounds per minute. That means they will empty a magazine in just a few seconds, not a few minutes as portrayed on TV.

The recoil of every cartridge will basically be added on top of the last one because of the rapidity of fire; this makes the muzzle climb uncontrollably in some models and especially when fired by inexperienced shooters.

If you take a good look at most military rifles, you will see a device added right at the end of the barrel. This is a flash hider. Militaries do everything they can to eliminate the muzzle flash as much as possible.

There is absolutely nothing about this flash that is useful in any situation, it gives away your position to the enemy and destroys your night vision like the flash from a camera.

The combination of the flash hider and flash suppressors in the gunpowder formulation produces the oposite effect of what’s seen on screen.

But Hollywood, being as showy as it is, wants as much flash coming out of these firearms as possible to wow the audience.

The media sometimes make up guns that don’t even exist.

I’ve heard of the Glock 7, mentioned above, .22 caliber sawed-off shotguns, AR-14s, AR-47s, AK-15s and 16s, 40mm handguns (I ain’t shooting that one!), semi-automatic revolvers (actually there is one model of Webley that can be described as such) and flame-throwing, armor-piercing, silent, exploding bullets (OK, I made that one up).

The fact is, there is no end to the things people will make up to sound like they know what they are talking about.

My two favorite quotes on Hollywood gunfighting were by two icons of the big screen Westerns.

The first was by Roy Rogers. When asked how they got so many shots out of the old Colt revolvers without reloading, he answered, “That’s why they are called .45s – that’s how many shots you get out of them.”

The other was the great patriot, John Wayne. A guest on the old Phil Donahue show and an obvious gun enthusiast (since he knew the old Colts should actually be carried with only five rounds aboard), he was asked the same question.

He answered in his typical slow drawl: “Well…, if we shot six shots…, reloaded…, shot six more…, reloaded…, on and on, it’d make for a pretty boring movie.”

One last thing: If you ever find yourself in a non-Hollywood shootout, don’t hide behind couches and car doors – let alone a flipped over table.

Bullets go right through those things most of the time.