A Question About the Huntsville Shooting

So the media outlets all seem to be saying that Amy Bishop shot six of her colleagues before her gun “jammed,” whereupon she was “pushed out of the room.”

We haven’t heard what model gun she was using, but don’t most handguns have just six shots? If so, why not assume her gun ran out of bullets rather than that it jammed? Is it that the reporters know more than we do (i.e. that her gun held more than six bullets) or that they know less than we do (i.e. the media’s usual vast ignorance about guns)?

A related question: why didn’t those who pushed her out of the room disarm her first? Weren’t they afraid she might reload and come back?

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6 Responses to A Question About the Huntsville Shooting

  1. Daniel February 18, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Revolvers have 6 shots, but any other sort of pistol has 10 or more, depending on the magazine and/or the weapon. Without knowing what sort of weapon she had, it’s hard to make a judgment about the weapon jamming – some are notorious for it while with others it is a rare occurrence.

    As for the related question, I don’t know many people that would charge someone whose weapon ‘seemed to jam.’ Guns aren’t very effective in extremely close proximity (a tap on the forearm can knock it clear of you) but that would still take balls of steel.

    • Roderick February 18, 2010 at 1:18 am #

      any other sort of pistol has 10 or more

      Okay, so it’s actually my own vast ignorance about guns.

      I don’t know many people that would charge someone whose weapon ’seemed to jam.’

      Sure, but I was assuming they did charge her, at least to the extent of “pushing her out the door.”

  2. Clyde Adams III February 18, 2010 at 7:26 am #

    “Revolvers have 6 shots, but any other sort of pistol has 10 or more”

    Both parts of this statement are false. First, “In modern revolvers, the revolving cylinder typically chambers 5 or 6 rounds, but some models hold 10 rounds or more.”

    Second, many other pistols (especially, but not only, small ones) have a capacity of less than 10 rounds; see for example this pocket handgun comparison (pdf).

    • Neverfox February 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

      I think you’re being overly pedantic. As a gun enthusiast, I can assure you that in most cases and with the most common models, the statement is a useful rule of thumb. In fact, the 10-round limit on handgun magazines in CA is a notorious annoyance since so many models are factory made with more rounds and need to make special CA models of their magazines. Also, few revolvers have more than 6 shots.

      But talk of revolvers is irrelevant. It was a 9mm semi-automatic and a jam causes the gun to behave very differently than simply running out of rounds in a semi. At the end of a magazine, almost every semi’s slide will lock in the open position, clearly indicating that the gun is empty. A jam is often a FTF (fail to fire, i.e. the hammer drops and nothing happens) or a FTE (fail to extract, where the previous cartridge gets jammed in the extraction port). It would be very easy to tell a jam visually.

      As for pocket pistols, there are very few 9mm pocket pistols, those being often chambered in .380ACP. The popular Glock 26 holds 10 rounds, the Kahr PM9 holds 7 (though 6 rounds are available), and the world’s smallest, the Rohrbaugh holds 6.

    • Neverfox February 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

      Also, the 6-round 9mm guns, like most magazine feed guns, are “+1” meaning that you can carry a round in the chamber. So really, the smallest 9mm pocket pistol made holds a maximum of 7 rounds.

      • Roderick February 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

        Though a couple on that comparison sheet were 5+1.

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