Rounds per minute and mass shootings



This tweet put me in mind of a project I’m planning on doing at some point, and posting in this forum.

In the spirit of trying to make an important point without "well actually"ing a grieving person (which is something we pro-2A types so often do, myself included), I think it’s important to note that 45 rounds per minute is just not that much. I’m pretty sure I could do this very easily and at a leisurely pace with no practice using a double-barreled coach gun like this one:

I think it would be useful to do some rate-of-fire exercises with old-school guns and compile the info, here, just as way to give people some perspective on what real-world rates of fire are and how little they matter in a mass shooting scenario.

Rate of fire matters a great deal when someone is shooting back. But active shooters are walking around and shooting unarmed people who are trying to shelter in place, and in these scenarios they always fire in short bursts and then have relatively long pauses.

To take Parkland as another example, there’s the famous “6 minutes” that Gonzalez does in her speech. If you were going not by rate of fire by buy the number of targets shot at center mass (as a proxy for fatalities), again, you could use the above linked coach gun to get a much higher body count than 8 dead in that amount of time if nobody is shooting back and everyone is sheltering in place.

I think this would be most usefully demonstrated with a video, although it would take a lot of effort to ensure that the tone is respectful and that the discussion around it is productive. It would basically involve simulating a number of different mass shootings on a range, which is likely to provoke serious backlash (and maybe even a visit from law enforcement) no matter how it’s handled… which is probably why nobody has done it.


There have been a few recent calls by politicians or media heads to ban guns based on rate of fire, often with ridiculously low values; these are likely to be more useful framing points than the mourning of a friend of victims. Having trouble finding them under the various bumpfire stock stuff, though.

I would advise against doing anything that could be read as an active debunking: it would be much better to take examples and contexts that are framed as self-defense, and point out how the parallels. There are some pieces like that already – IDPA and USPSA Revolver divisions exist and compete fairly seriously with the stock GLOCKs – but it’s fairly easy for gun control advocates to dismiss Jerry Miculek as some unusual special-case, and there’s not much in the rifle or shotgun realm with video composition that non-gunnies (or even many gunnies) could understand.

Running the same courses with a lever-action rifle, comparing to the middle-ground scores in-video can be written to the video host as simply showing how less effective such guns are. The people talking directly to gun control advocates can point out that an awful score in IDPA would still involve so many hits in so many minutes.


In connection with something you wrote previously, doesn’t this run into the problem of gun control folks seeing themselves as potential targets, and so lethality/ease of use is something to be reduced, whereas gun rights proponents see themselves behind the gun defending against an attack, so lethality/ease of use is a plus? Given this dichotomy, I don’t think the demonstration you laid out would really have the intended effect. In fact, I think it’s really this that drives the divide we see in the discourse.

Even though my comment is negative, I am extremely excited to see where this project goes! Thank you for what you’ve done so far.


Agreed on this for sure. That tweet was what just what spurred the post, but it’s also the case that the tweet itself is framed based on gun-banner talking points about rates of fire. But yeah, I’d explicitly do it as a response to gun ban talk about rate of fire.


My point thought would be to say, “even this ancient double-barreled shotgun is as lethal against clusters of unarmed targets at close range as a brand-new AR-15, in fact probably more so, so if you’re worried about being on the wrong end of a gun in an active shooter situation and are looking to ban specific categories of guns as way to feel safer, you’re barking up the wrong tree with an AR-15 ban.”


InRange did a what-if video looking at the Henry lever action as an assault rifle. It’s just a thought experiment, but it’s interesting to consider it as an intermediate cartridge (i.e., not 45-70 Govt), lightweight rifle with a high rate of fire.