I just watched an episode of “The Mentalist” which featured yet another deranged gun owner willing to commit mass murder to satisfy his dark inner demons that led him to obtain guns in the first place.
It featured all the usual cliches. There was the scene at the firing range out in the boonies somewhere, where lots of crazy people were all lined up shooting TVs, bottles, old computers, various other defunct appliances, watermelons, and so on, using shotguns, rifles and handguns, and even one belt fed machine gun (which led all the other folks at the informal range to cheer and applaud).
Here’s the thing: I’ve been at many different firing ranges, both regulated (with a range master) and unregulated (with no range master, and everyone simply applying common sense). I have pretty much never seen a bunch of people all side by side firing such a mixed array of firearms at such a mixed array of targets. Nearly everyone shoots rifles and handguns at paper targets in firing ranges, even unregulated ones. That’s because they want to know how accurately they are shooting, and you really can’t tell any other way. Generally, there is a section for handguns, a section for rifles, and a section for shotguns. This is because handgunners are shooting at different ranges than rifle shooters, and because shotgunners are often shooting at clay targets. People practicing with self-defense shotguns are usually using paper targets as well, typically at handgun ranges.
I have never seen a machine gun at an unregulated range. I have seen them ONLY at special shows where people line up to pay for a short period of shooting time under highly supervised conditions. If someone opened up with a machine gun in any other situation, especially without warning, the rest of the shooters would not applaud. Some might call the cops. Nearly all would be likely to back off, pack up, and leave. No one wants to be associated with a nut-case, or be around one… and only a nut case would do that, even if he owned one legally. (For the record, machine guns are so highly regulated that legal owners of them are just about the most trustworthy people you’ll ever meet, and the LEAST likely to do such a thing.) So that means someone who did such a thing would be highly suspect in the eyes of the shooting community.
Finally, the bad guy in this story had a concealed carry weapons permit in California, apparently in the Bay Area, if I understand how the show is based. This is truly unlikely. The Bay Area is just about the hardest spot in a difficult state to get such a permit. They go to famous movie stars, millionaires, former police chiefs, and so on…. only people with pull in the system. Normal people can’t get them (we can talk about the unconstitutionality of such discrimination later). Certainly, out of work people down on their financial luck (the case in the story) are not going to have one.
The incidence of criminal behavior on the part of concealed carry weapons permit holders in ANY state is very, very low, and it’s even lower in California, where it is so difficult to get such a permit in most places.
So, let’s just say that this episode of The Mentalist was written by someone who is mentally challenged…. and obviously knows nothing about guns and gun owners….. and who has an axe to grind.
How do I know the script writer knows nothing about guns, as well as being ignorant about gun owners? As a ploy, the police are supposed to have snuck into the bad guy’s house and replaced all his ammo with blanks. Furthermore, these had to be blanks that would cause a fully automatic weapon to operate properly, so they could catch him in the act of trying to mow people down with a weapon filled with blanks, and then arrest him.
Since they didn’t know WHICH of his weapons he’d be using, they would have to have replaced ALL his ammo for ALL his weapons with blanks. Outside of the unlikelihood that he wouldn’t notice the replaced ammo, and the impossibility of being certain they’d FOUND all his ammo to replace it, self-loading semi-automatic and automatic weapons mostly won’t operate with blanks. But this guy is shown emptying an entire magazine of them with narry a malfunction. This gives thin plot devices a whole new meaning.
Does anybody think the California Bureau of Investigation has thousands of rounds of blanks in all calibers just sitting around in case they need to fool some criminal gun owner? Linked up in belt-fed form for machine guns? Since, in the story, they couldn’t have known which weapon he would use, they would have to have planned for that one, too. I can just see some flatfoot sitting at a desk laboriously building chains of linked blanks. Maybe he’d get done in a week or two.
I’m still laughing. Hollywood is indeed fantasy land, filled with dupes and dufuses. What morons.