What Military-Style Rifles Do To Human Bodies

Ed Raymond

Let’s get real for a few minutes. Several trauma surgeons, most with Iraq and Afghanistan war experiences, collaborated for a New York Times article “Wounds from  Military-Style Rifles? ‘A Ghastly Thing To See’.”  Rifles with muzzle velocities over 3,000 feet per second explode bones and disintegrate organs. They have the x-rays to prove it. A Sandy Hook first grader was hit by 11 rounds from a Bushmaster. The doctor conducting the autopsy said he looked like hamburger. 

The authors summarized the experiences of the doctors: “Perhaps no one knows the devastating wounds inflicted by assault-style rifles better than the trauma surgeons who struggle to repair them. The doctors say they are haunted by their experiences confronting injuries so dire they struggle to find words to describe them.” All civilians and people who own military-style weapons should read this article.

Rosemarie Melanson was hit with one round of the 1,100 fired from an AR-15 at the massacre in Las Vegas. She has been in the hospital for 153 days and will spend many more. Her liver, spleen, stomach, and diaphragm were severely damaged. She has had nine serious surgeries and will need more. She has spent two months on life support. After five months she can walk 30 feet before collapsing. I repeat: one round. I am going to use lines very similar to the article’s text to describe wounds.

•  The AR-15 and its derivatives, like the M-4 and M-16 issued to the military, shoots lightweight, high-speed bullets that cause grievous bone and soft tissue wounds, in part by turning sideways, or “yawing,” when they hit a person. Civilians can buy soft-nosed or hollow-point ammo that fragments on impact, causing much wider and dangerous tissue channels that allow rapid bleeding.

• A radiologist at a Parkland hospital said one surgeon opened up a high schooler  and found only shreds of his liver and kidneys.

• A trauma surgeon described wounds: “The tissue destruction is almost unimaginable. Bones are exploded, soft tissue is absolutely destroyed. The injuries to the chest and abdomen—it’s like a bomb went off. If a bullet hits an arm or leg, the limb often hangs at an unnatural angle. Such victims can need a dozen surgeries over months. Some eventually decide to undergo an amputation if there is severe pain in the limb and it is dysfunctional.”

• Another surgeon: “Bystanders are traumatized just seeing the victims. It’s awful, terrible. It’s just a ghastly to see. In mass shootings, there are no unwounded victims.”

• The energy imparted to a human body by a high velocity weapon (3,000 ft. per sec.)  than that from a handgun (from 700 to 1100 ft. per sec.) is exponentially greater. The exit wounds can blast holes a foot wide and multiple organs can be shattered by one bullet.

•  The victim had been shot in the outer thigh. The wound didn’t look so bad. There was just a tiny hole where the bullet went in. But at the exit point there was a huge exit wound almost a foot wide. The high energy bullet creates a blast wave around the bullet. The yaw contributes to the large exit wound. If it strikes a bone, the fragments cut tissue in each fragment’s path.

•  The blast wave damages organs and blood vessels, so many victims bleed to death before they reach a hospital. Often the injuries cannot be repaired.

• With a handgun, the bullets mostly damage tissues and organs in their direct path. Then the bullets are slowed and stopped by the body. Emergency surgery can often save handgun victims. Even a bullet wound to the heart can be repaired if the victim survives the trip to the hospital. Holes in intestines and bladders caused by military-style rifles usually cannot be repaired.

A Young Teen’s Plot To Kill 150 Students

This is the story of school shooter Jesse Osborne of Townsville, South Carolina. The thirteen-year-old eighth grader wrote that on some morning he was going to take his father’s  Ruger Mini-14 assault rifle,  kill his father, drive his father’s pickup about four miles to Townsville Elementary School (near the middle school from where he had been recently expelled), shoot out the classroom windows, enter the school, shoot up the second grade classroom first, then kill up to 50 to 60 in the school before getting caught by the police. He wrote: “If I get lucky maybe 150.” 

On September 28, 2016, Jesse took his father’s .40 caliber pistol because he thought the Mini-14 was locked in the gun cabinet, killed his drunk father by shooting him in the back of the head, drove the pickup to the school, killed one six-year-old first grader, and wounded two teachers before the handgun jammed. His rampage lasted 12 seconds. A volunteer fireman held him until the police came. The story of the shooting and the subsequent interviews by a psychiatrist was later published by The Washington Post.

On the same day of the Parkland shooting this year Jesse was in a South Carolina courtroom waiting to hear whether he would be tried as an adult. He and Nikolas Cruz have a great deal in common, according to investigators. Both tortured animals, were obsessed by any kind of firearm, and bragged about their intentions to shoot up their schools. They both lacked empathy, were coldblooded and callous about their attacks, and neither has any kind of horror or guilt. A psychiatrist assigned to Jesse said he reveled in the attack and showed no remorse. Jesse in a 46-page confession admitted that nine days before the shooting at Townsville he said he had to beat the record 20 first graders and six teachers Adam Lanza killed at Sandy Hook. He wanted to kill at least 40.

He Wanted To Become The Youngest Mass Killer In History

Jesse listed other plans in his confession. He considered himself a victim of an unfair world and wrote he wanted to kill kids he didn’t even know “before they bully the nobodies. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.” He had researched his killing ground. He wrote it would take the police 15 minutes to get to the site and a SWAT team at least 45 minutes. He also wanted to throw pipe bombs into every classroom in the school. He had planned to shoot himself with a shotgun after a gun battle with police. He wrote he had been planning this massacre for two years. He wanted to be the youngest mass killer in history.

During interviews with investigators and psychiatrists he continued to talk about how dangerous he was. “He wanted people to know.”
Jesse had been a good student through fifth grade, played baseball, and was invited to birthday parties. But when he moved to sixth grade in middle school he pulled legs off crickets, smashed frogs against posts, and continually watched kittens being tortured on a video. He watched videos about Columbine and other shootings. He was expelled from school and arrested for bringing a hatchet and machete to school in his backpack. He served some time in a juvenile detention center. He was then home-schooled. His mother told investigators he was increasingly hard to discipline after the hatchet incident.

After his older siblings moved away he played first-person shooter games for hours in his room and spent hours on the Internet researching information about firearms. He watched a website called Tumblr, where fans of serial and school mass killers “gathered to delight in their shared devotion.” He loved the movie “Natural Born Killers” and was fascinated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers. After he killed his father, he said goodbye to his dogs and his favorite rabbit Floppy, and left a message for his chat group saying he would “be on the news.” By the way: The Ruger Mimi-14 Jesse wanted to use at the school was not in his father’s gun cabinet. The police found it leaning on his dad’s dresser. If he had found it he may have reached his goal of 60—or reached 150.

In The Middle Of The NRA Gun Culture There Are Many Jesses

If you think we don’t have hundreds of Jesses in Fargo-Moorhead and North Dakota and Minnesota you are naïve. We are in the middle of the NRA gun culture. Since Parkland many Minnesota high schools have had to go on lockdown because of “Jesses” making threats to kill students and shoot up their schools. 

The Vadnais Heights incident in the Twin Cities received the most media coverage when a 13-year-old boy threatened to shoot up his classmates and school. When the police searched his home, they discovered dozens of firearms (some loaded), thousands of rounds of ammunition, two explosive devices, a sawed-off illegal shotgun, an illegal modified AK-47 that would fire automatically, and several trigger kits to convert semi-automatics to full automatic. They also found a ballistic vest. The boy and his parents were arrested and jailed for a period of time. Their attorney said that Chris and Lisa Stowe just had “a typical Minnesota home.” If that’s a typical Minnesota home the state is in serious trouble. Actually, if we just have a few hundred homes like the Stowes, we are in very serious trouble. The preponderance of evidence indicates the shooters are out there. A neighbor of the Stowes made this point: “Anytime you have children, especially in our climate right now, you don’t have that kind of stuff around.”

It’s Time To Choose Politics And Thoughts And Prayers At The Same Time

The Forum’s Roxanne Salonen wrote we should utter prayers before preaching politics in the tragedy of death by firearms. Since the NRA has flooded the country with firearms and its violent culture, over 1.4 million Americans have been killed by civilians while 4.2 million have been wounded. That’s more than what we have lost in all of our wars since the Revolution. Instead of acting to reduce firearm deaths as the capacity to kill has been increased a thousand-fold, politicians have been sending whining thoughts and prayers. What is God’s final limit on deaths? Two million? Six million? He hasn’t sent the message yet. A firearm kills a person every 15 minutes and wounds one every five. Evidently the solution to our problems lies with us, not a Supreme Being. Let’s not postpone action to pray. If you want to pray, that’s terrific. But get to work immediately on the gun culture. How many deaths is the price of the Second Amendment and NRA “freedom?”

I know of only one prayer that has been directly answered. TV evangelist Pat Robertson, who often said God spoke to him once a week, publicly called on God to send a devastating storm to Orlando, Florida to punish the city for approving a gay “Pride” march. Instead, God sent a storm to Robertson’s home city in Virginia the next day and came close to decimating it. So there.

  We presently have 133,366 K-12 schools and 2,618 four-year colleges. Long Beach, California had six viable school threats in the ten days following Parkland. The police investigating the incidents used 200 hours of overtime in an attempt to cover the threats. That’s just one city. In the three weeks following Parkland, Minnesota has had 21 serious school shooting threats. In the 12 days after Parkland, the country faced 638 school shooting threats from the NRA gun culture. This gun culture has turned into a public health pandemic. Getting real is long overdue.