Imagine my surprise this morning when I opened up the paper and saw the caption on a photo said, “Bullets from an assault rifle travel three times the speed of handgun bullets. Once they enter the body, they fragment and explode.” This came from an opinion piece by Dr. Leana S. Wen who is an emergency physician and the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City. One would think a Doctor would be able to do simple math and also understand how bullets function. So let’s explore her statements. I’ll choose a 9mm bullet because it is probably the most common round one will find today in semi-automatic firearms. The muzzle velocity of a 9mm varies, but if we select a middle of the road round it will travel at least 1,200 ft/s. Now let’s compare that with the muzzle velocity of a .223 which is the round most commonly associated with a modern sporting rifle. Again a middle of the road number would be 3,000 ft/s with some being faster and some being slower. Let’s apply a little mathematics to determine 3 / 1.2 = 2.5 which I suppose one could round to three, but should people with advanced degrees round? Suppose Dr. Wen was administering a drug to a patient in the ER. Should she say 2.5 cc is the exact amount, but let’s round that to 3 cc? I think not. Now she could choose an exact manufactured round which has a muzzle velocity of 3,600 ft/s, but by the same token we could choose one with a muzzle velocity of 2,500 ft/s which in Dr. Wen’s world would round down to 2. The patient requires 2.083 cc of the drug, but let’s just round down to 2, no worries.
Now let’s hit on what really caught my eye. She said, “once they enter the body, they fragment and explode.” No, no they do not. They do fragment, that much is true, but there is no explosion which happens from a rifle bullet hitting a target. The .223 bullet is unstable once it contacts a target and it begins to tumble and fragment, but it NEVER explodes. I despise when people who should know better choose to represent statements as fact when they are actually false. Dr. Wen should know better (or at least Google it) and The News & Observer should not print opinions such as this with statements which are so easily fact checked for validity. Perhaps there are words of wisdom in Dr. Wen’s opinion piece, but sensationalizing the photo in the print edition is yet another example of poor journalism standards from the N&O. Maybe Ned is hitting the bottle again?