CBS News Inaccurately Names AR-15 as Mass Shooters’ ‘Weapon of Choice’

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During the November 4 airing of CBS News’s 60 Minutes, they inaccurately described the AR-15 as mass shooters’ “weapon of choice.”

The claim that the AR-15 is the “weapon of choice” is widely reported and it is Fake New 101. In fact, to make the claim even nominally palatable, 60 Minutes host Scott Pelley only referenced five mass shooting events, all of which happened in the last six years and all which involved an AR-15 or an AR-15 and various handguns.

Those five shootings were the Tree of Life Synagogue (October 27, 2018), the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (November 5, 2017), the Las Vegas concert (October 1, 2017), the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida (February 14, 2018), and the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack (December 14, 2012).

To use these shootings to highlight the use of AR-15s Pelley had to look over more recent shootings, like the May 18, 2018, Santa Fe High School shooting in which ten were killed by an attacker using a shotgun and revolver. He also had to overlook attacks that took place before six years ago; attacks like the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech shooting wherein an attacker armed with two handguns killed 32 people.

Moreover, Pelley had to ignore the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s recent study which showed that 50 years of mass shooters, 1966-2016, chose handguns over rifles by a three to one margin. Notice, that is handguns of any kind over rifles of any kind. So the ration of handguns vs. AR-15s, in particular, would be even greater than three to one.

To try to put bolster the “weapon of choice” claim even further, 60 Minutes had University of California researcher Cynthia Bir show ballistic gel test results for a 9mm vs. an AR-15:

The ballistic gel test well illustrated 60 Minutes’ decision to cherry pick certain comparisons — a 9mm vs. an AR-15 — to bolster their “weapon of choice” claim, rather than comparing the pistols to pistols and rifles to rifles. In other words, just as they chose five mass shootings that highlighted the use of AR-15s, and therefore bolsters 60 Minutes’ “weapon of choice” claim, so too they compared a pistol caliber to an AR-15 without taking the trouble to compare the AR-15 to rifle that shoots a round such as a 30.06.

Perhaps they did this by chance. But either way, once you see a 30.06 hit the ballistic gel you quickly know the AR-15 is not top dog:

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at Sign up to get Down Range at


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