Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Derringer crime is serious business

I try to avoid piling on when mobs on the Internet poke fun at the same fool, but this one is so off the wall I couldn't resist.

Kristen Gwynne's article-like list, formatted to splash across six different pages and maximize page views, is titled The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America. The folly of the piece isn't outrageous claims; besides the sneering tone it doesn't really make any. It's not the clueless writing about firearms; those are so common today that it's hard to get worked up about another "assault weapon" mistake. It's not even the conclusions.

That's because it had none. Reading it was like eating a salad made entirely out of lettuce with no dressing. It stated nothing. It's like opening the front door to a house, stepping through, and finding oneself in the backyard. It's groping in the wrong spot for the pull switch of a ceiling light.

The piece promises the reader that Gwynne combed FBI and ATF data to find out which kinds of guns are used in crimes. A reasonable person would expect specific models or even brands to be the result.

Nope. Instead, Gwyenne told us that pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and, wait for it, derringers are the types of guns most commonly used in crimes or found at crime scenes.


That's like asking advice for what kind of car to get and being told "sedan."

The actual entries read like a lazy 6th grader who copied the encyclopedia word for word. This is from the "revolver" entry:

Some grenade launchers, shotguns, and rifles also have rotating barrels, but the term "revolver" is generally used to describe handguns. Revolver types include single and double-action firing mechanisms, the latter of which does not require a cocking action separate from the trigger pull.

Yeah, that's true, but was there a point here? There is no one in the world who knows about revolver shotguns who fails to understand what an "assault rifle" it, yet she started off this absurdity with the lede:

Contrary to what those who defend the right to own high-powered assault rifles believe, not all guns are created equal. Due to a combination of availability, portability and criminal usage the following five types of guns are the country's most dangerous.

Look, I appreciate how hard it can be to come up with a good lede, but that was phoned-in. If we thought all guns are equally useful in all situations why would we care about efforts to ban or restrict AR-15s?

I know entertainment media like Rolling Stone dip left and will print progressive claptrap with little thought, but this article's real problems are quality-control, not politics. Sure, Gwynne is a lazy hack who rewrote a few technical descriptions and likes to pretend she can do data analysis, but she had to submit her work to an editor who approved it. They even got stock photos to flesh it out. This is a total catastrophe on a quality level and it's frankly embarrassing to see a national media company publish something that isn't even suitable for LiveJournal.

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