Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Robert Wright: A cautionary tale of journalistic ignorance.

Written By: Bob - Apr• 30•12

According to his bio at The Atlantic, Robert Wright:

 …is a senior editor at The Atlantic and the author, most recently, of The Evolution of God, a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Wright is also a fellow at the New America Foundation and editor in chief of His other books include Nonzero, which was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book in 2000 and included on Fortune magazine’s list of the top 75 business books of all-time. Wright’s best-selling book The Moral Animal was selected as one of the ten best books of 1994 by The New York Times Book Review.Wright has contributed to The Atlantic for more than 20 years.

By the standards of the mainstream media, Wright is about the best they have to offer.

And this, apparently, is the what “the best they have to offer”  brings to the table.

And then there’s the part of the story the Reuters piece doesn’t address: According to other reports, Zimmerman’s gun was loaded with hollow-point bullets–bullets that expand upon impact, maximizing internal damage and the chances of death. You don’t need hollow-point bullets to stop a pit bull. And you don’t need hollow-point bullets to stop a robber.

Sure, some gun enthusiasts may warn that if you face an armed bad guy, hollow points minimize the chances of his returning fire after being shot. But how likely is it–in real life, not the movies–that this would actually come into play? And, anyway, there was no evidence that the robbers who had afflicted the neighborhood were armed; they were burglars, not muggers, and when in danger of being caught they’d fled. (And as for the reason police sometimes use hollow points–to cut the chances that the bullet will harm bystanders after passing through the victim’s body or after ricocheting: that makes a lot of sense in a crowded urban environment, but not much in Zimmerman’s neighborhood.)

Like most members the media, Wright adopts a position of authority in his tone and theme, even though he is clearly ignorant of the subject matter. The vast majority of police departments, federal law enforcement agencies, counter-terrorism and certain special operation forces chose hollowpoint ammunition for a number of reasons.

Hollowpoint ammunition is design to expand when it hits its target. This expansion increases the frontal surface area of the bullet and expends more energy into the target, accomplishing several important things. By expending most or all of its energy into the target, it increases the probability that the energy transferred will have a more immediate effect and end the threat. Optimally, this means that the need to fire additional shots to stop the threat will be limited or eliminated entirely.

A full metal jacket (FMJ) or lead round nose (LRN) can certainly kill if it hits the same organs as a hollowpoint, but the design of these bullets means that they are likely to more bore straight through and out the other side, with enough energy to penetrate walls and injure or kill an innocent bystander inside the next building. Hollowpoints tend to dump their energy and stop the threat with fewer shots fired, and with less of a threat of injuring an innocent person downrange.

Do you know what hunters use on pitbull-sized targets, like coyotes? Hollowpoints, ballistic tips (hollowpoints with a polymer spreader tip to make them expand more rapidly), and frangiable ammunition that blows apart on contact.The reason for using these rounds is simple: humanely dispatching an animal as quickly and painlessly as possible. If stopping a dog attack is the reason he bought his ammunition, Zimmerman chose correctly and wisely.

But what if Zimmerman purchased his ammunition for self defense against human predators? Once again, experts and every major law enforcement agency mandates that their officers use hollowpoint ammunition for the combination of enhanced stopping power, and the reduction of the threat of over-penetration and injuries downrange.  They aren’t just chosen by the officers, but by department lawyers that don’t want to face lawsuits from a bullet that passed through one of more buildings and hit an innocent bystander. In an apartment complex like George Zimmerman lived in, the population density is significant and going with something other than a hollowpoint or a frangiable would have been the irresponsible decision. In choosing hollowpoints, Zimmerman carried the exact kind of ammunition credible experts would have recommended.

Robert Wright, a firearms know-nothing, has written himself into a corner.

Let’s see if he has the integrity to file a correction or retraction to his ignorance driven screed. I, for one, am not hopeful.

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  1. Gus Bailey says:

    Considering the rule of thumb that one should never point a firearm at anything one doesn’t want to kill; the inverse being “shoot to kill, never to piss someone off”; it makes sense to carry lethal ammo everywhere but the range.

  2. Georg Felis says:

    If the MSM were just sloppy and misinformed, their errors would be on *both* sides.

    “Errors” only on one side of an arguement, every single time the arguement shows up are not errors, they are bias.