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Fort Hood was back in the news last few weeks with the arraignment of Nadal Hasan, who was charged with killing 13 and wounding 31 others in Killeen, TX 20 months ago. Many stories in the wake of those shootings have been reported and written from the perspective of the shooter and the victims.
Reporter Lee Hancock, who has been our lead writer on the massacre, had the idea to tell the story from the gun’s point of view. To illustrate the story, we had an opportunity to fire the handgun, a FN Five-seven, used in the shootings. Hasan fired 214 rounds from the weapon in less than 10 minutes.
This past January, we met former U.S. Assistant District Attorney Tonda Curry, a markswoman in her own right, at an East Texas gun range near Tyler. I had hoped to make a dramatic photo of spent shells flying out of the chamber, the smoking barrel, and the lightning fast slide. Or, on the off chance, a photo of the bullet exiting the gun.
To freeze the action, I shot at 1/8000 sec. We fired through several clips. Each round had some nice photos to use. But it wasn’t until after the final clip of shells that I noticed I had caught the flash fire that occurs for a millisecond after a round is fired.
It was such a surprise. I literally crumpled to the ground, laughing in disbelief. Because we’d captured it once, we tried again but nothing else came close. The setting winter sun ducked behind the trees ending our chances anyway.
With time to spare I had chance to fire the gun. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been to a gun range, so my expectations of hitting the target were low. Raising the gun and using the three-dot combat sights, I fired the first two single shots from 20 feet. They were dead on the target center. To really test its accuracy, I emptied the 20-round clip in rapid succession, hitting the center for all but four.
I was totally blown away by the gun’s low recoil – the barrel never rolled my wrist and it never climbed above the intended target. On most handguns, both occur while firing at a fevered pace. With a laser sight on the gun, I can only imagine how easy it was for Hasan to kill so many in such a short amount of time. It was literally point and shoot. I just wish one of those clips had jammed sparing a few lives.