Bill O’Reilly: Off The Rails on “Heavy Weapons”

— This article by Jerry Cates, first published on 25 July 2012, was last revised on 3 October 2014. © Govinthenews Vol. 3:07(02).


“If the FBI is alerted that somebody is buying 60,000 heavy-duty rounds, they’re going to check it out, because that’s what anti-terrorism is! That’s what they do!… You’re telling me you object to this? This doesn’t intrude on any hunter, anybody with a handgun to protect themself, anybody with a rifle, this is an AK! Come on!”

Comments by Bill O’Reilly (on The O’Reilly Factor) to Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), airing on the FoxNews TV Channel, 24 July 2012; their debate focused on the ammunition and firearms used by the murderer who killed twelve movie-goers in Aurora, Colorado, on 13 July.


In this spirited prime time temper-tantrum, O’Reilly mixes up a weird cocktail of hypocrisy, ignorance, and factual inaccuracy, in a bloviating (one of Bill’s favorite words) show of what some would characterize as typical O’Reilly arrogance. In the process he foolishly gives his critics added evidence that his motto “The Spin Stops Here!” is a calculated sham.

That clearly isn’t his intent. Look, it pains me to call O’Reilly out when he screws up, but — as Bill himself would say — that’s what real friends do. No, we’ve never met, he doesn’t know me from Adam, and we are not likely ever to meet (especially, perhaps, after this). But like Walter Brennan’s character Amos McCoy, I can’t help telling him off — in a kindly, grandfatherly way — when he’s stepped in it. Well, dagnabbit, he stepped in it again, and somebody needs to wake him up to that fact. It’s for his own good, don’t ya see…

Bill does everything in his power to appear about as honest as the day is long. His declared mission in life is, as he puts it, to provide others with genuine, spin-free commentary (though, in all honesty, sometimes he puts entertainment in front of truth, when it suits his fancy or excuses his lapses in judgment or ignorance of the facts). Fact is, he probably thinks he’s not spinning the truth, even when he is. If so, it’s in his own best interest to see clearly, so he can wake up, turn the corner, and clean up his act. Else, how on earth can the man retain so much as a shred of credibility? Entertainment value is not truth value, and since O’Reilly is smart enough to know the difference, he should be expected to respect that difference in his on-air commentary.

But seriously, let’s proceed on a high note: Bill did get the first thing he said right: He criticized those who are intent on using the Aurora Colorado massacre to promote gun control.

Too bad he didn’t stop there. Had he done so, I wouldn’t be writing this. But, no, instead he immediately went off the rails. And he did that by demanding, hypocritically (inasmuch as it contradicted his earlier criticism), the enactment of legislative restrictions on what he mistakenly characterized as “heavy weapons” purchases that take place “without the FBI knowing about it.” At this point he blurted out that the perp involved (no name please — that self-absorbed murderous jerk doesn’t deserve the publicity) in the Aurora massacre had recently bought “60,000 heavy-duty rounds,” and “an AK,” and “anybody can buy a machine gun or a bazooka,” yet “because of the gun show loophole in the law… nobody knows about it.”

As O’Reilly lit into Jason Chaffetz, he reiterated loudly and forcefully — in characteristic O’Reilly Factor style — his conviction that Congress should pass a law requiring anyone who sells heavy weapons to report that sale to the FBI. Chaffetz countered this by saying, among other things, that that was already happening. O’Reilly then told Chaffetz he didn’t know what he was talking about: If you go to flight school, he charged, the FBI knows about it, but not if you purchase a machine gun. Calmly, Chaffetz replied that that was absolutely not true.

Chaffetz was right. O’Reilly was wrong, and if he has an ounce of integrity he’ll publicly apologize to Chaffetz for not getting his facts straight. Read the law for yourself. Buying bazookas and machine guns without a background check, registering the weapon, and paying an annual fee, has been prohibited since 1934. And since O’Reilly is, indeed, a man of integrity, you can count on a public apology to Chaffetz from the man. Mark my words. But, while we await the sure-as-shootin’ coming apology with bated breath, let’s do a short postmortem on the rest of the O’Reilly/Chaffetz exchange:

Some important facts O’Reilly either missed or simply misunderstood:

—-The perp bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition, not 60,000. O’Reilly moved the decimal point one place to the right. That’s serious, but why? To spin the truth? Not Bill O’Reilly, not in the No Spin Zone. Still, it quacks… kinda like a duck… even if, as I suspect, Bill simply misread the number.

—-The perp had, besides head-to-toe body armor, a rifle that the media likes to call an AR15 but which was actually an M4. The AR15 designation refers to the original version adopted by the USAF in 1962 and used in VietNam by the US Army as the M16 after 1963. The M4 is very similar in appearance to the M16, and both use similar rounds, but while the M16 is capable of full-automatic fire, like a machine gun, the M4 is a semi-automatic weapon and not capable of firing in full-auto. Each time you pull the trigger, one — and only one — bullet is fired. That’s why the M4 rifle is, contrary to what many in the media seem to believe, commonly used by ordinary run-of-the-mill hunters, hunters like me, for instance, for hunting deer, feral hogs, coyotes, and other game animals. In his dialogue with Jason Chaffetz O’Reilly called it an AK, apparently confusing it with an AK47, the USSR’s post-WWII military assault rifle chambered in 7.62mm that, like the M16, is in its military version capable of full-automatic fire. For civilian purchasers, the AK47 is only sold as a semi-automatic rifle, like the M4.

—The perp also had a shotgun, and a whole bunch of shotgun shells loaded with buckshot. Buckshot, as in shot used when hunting deer (bucks, i.e., male deer, not does, i.e. females). The shotgun is also used in hunting all the other aforementioned game animals, as well. It, like the M4, is capable of semi-automatic fire only.

—-Besides the rifle and the shotgun, the perp brought along two handguns, both standard models of the sort commonly used by, for example, law-abiding Americans for self defense.

—-Additionally, the perp rigged his apartment, apparently hoping to kill any police officers who might stumble inside, with a raft of booby-traps that included crude, improvised, hand-made grenades, gasoline-filled bottles and other incendiary and explosive items, all of which — from all reports thus far provided — are easily made from ordinary household items.

Bottom line: there were no — repeat, NO — heavy weapons involved in this crime. Nothing in the list of firearms, ammunition, or even in the raw materials used to fashion the home-made explosives together, was out of the ordinary. 6,000 rounds of ammunition is not an unusual amount, and buying that much at a time would not raise anybody’s eyebrows anywhere. For those with little or no experience with firearms 6,000 bullets seems a huge amount, but for a serious target shooter, who may fire 1,000 rounds at the range every week (averaging less than 143 rounds a day), it’s only a six week supply. For avid shooters who fire 1,000 a month, it’s a six-month supply. These days, with ammunition often hard to get, when target shooters go to the store to stock up, they often buy enough to last months, even enough for a year at a time.

Certainly, nothing on the list of firearms, ammo, and other supplies stockpiled by this perp would rise to a level of scrutiny that would, by any reasonable standard, need to be reported to the FBI or any other federal agency. The perp bought all his guns and ammunition through legal channels, complying with all the laws on the books, including taking all the required background checks and observing the required waiting periods. Nothing on this list was, to my knowledge, purchased at a gun-show.

So why did Bill bring up the so-called gun-show loophole? Since it has nothing to do with this case, that entire subject is irrelevant. Fact is, nothing Bill mentioned to Chaffetz had anything to do with the mass murder incident at Aurora, and that’s curious, because using such an incident to push unrelated issues is the kind of thing engaged by disingenuous commentators. They do it to spin the truth, which is precisely what Bill simply doesn’t do.

Mystifying, eh?

Call me old-fashioned, but it seems to me that the things you don’t do ought not to be mixed into the bag of things you do do. They’re out of place. So, my message to Bill is this: either stop making out like you are spinning, or stop claiming the spin stops with you. If you don’t want to be mistaken for a duck, stop your quacking. You watch: he’ll see the light and start doing the right thing. I know he will.

Now, let’s move along to what Bill should have been saying to Jason Chaffetz. He, the bastion of non-spun, unadorned truth, should have recognized that what America needs to take away from the terrible tragedy in Aurora is solid, useful dialogue — the lessons, if you will — that Americans can chew on and learn something valuable from. Things, in short, that can be life savers if, God forbid, something like this happens again.

That kind of dialogue is what should have happened on The O’Reilly Factor. And that’s what the rest of this article will be about.


Colorado provides licensing for concealed-carry of firearms by the public within the state. Likewise with the state of Virginia, yet on 16 April 2007 at Virginia Tech — within whose buildings the carrying of concealed firearms was prohibited for students and staff alike — a perp (we’ll not mention his name either) shot and killed 32 students within the university’s so-called “gun-free zone.” The theater chain that operates the movie house in Aurora Colorado that became the latest scene of mass murder was also “gun-free.” Signs at each entrance loudly proclaim to all who enter that they may not do so with a concealed firearm, licensed or not. High schools, like Columbine and many others where mass murders have taken place, are across this nation made into “gun-free zones” where guns are outlawed and where, as a result, only outlaws carry guns.

In Colorado Springs, in December of 2007, two church members were killed and three others injured when a gunman opened fire outside the New Life Church. That gunman, however, was immediately shot by a volunteer civilian security officer. Three months ago in Aurora, on 22 April, a gunman outside the New Destiny Christian Church succeeded in killing the mother of Pastor Delano Strahan, but was unable to kill more because a church member carrying a concealed firearm pulled his gun and took him out.

In October of 1997, at a high school in Pearl, Mississippi, two students were shot dead, but assistant principal Joel Myrick, who retrieved a gun from his car and immobilized the shooter with it, preventing further killings. In January 2002 at the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia, a former student killed the dean, an associate professor, and a student, before three law students — two of whom were armed — overpowered the gunman and prevented further deaths. In February 2007, at a mall in Salt Lake City, an armed off-duty police officer killed a young shooter who had just killed five people and was prepared to kill many more.

Gun-free zones are only free of guns carried by law-abiding people. Outlaws love such zones because they don’t have to worry as much about their victims firing back. Had there been one licensed concealed firearm in that Aurora theater, the odds against the perp would have improved immensely. How much would it have helped? God only knows. But informed, law-abiding Americans should be, and mostly are, in favor of improving those odds as much as possible, and Bill O’Reilly should be with them on this. He apparently isn’t, and there is no excuse for that.

Consider this: Bill O’Reilly had plenty to say about the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, and none of his comments favored allowing students or even professors to arm themselves against outlaw shooters. It has been what? five years now, since that horrible incident, plenty of time for O’Reilly and others who espouse anti-self-defense views to educate themselves on the subject and become better informed. The sheer ignorance he displayed in his discussion with Jason Chaffetz proves that has not happened, and that is inexcusable…

Commentators enter into their field of work for lots of reasons. Some do so just to put food on the table, buy a nice house, drive a new car, and enjoy the prestige that comes from success and acclaim. Others are mission oriented, focusing on trying to understand what the world, their nation, their community and their family needs best, and doing all they can as commentators to lend a hand in getting there. Bill, I know your stated mission plants you firmly in the second group, at least on paper. Fact is, though, your behavior, especially your failure to live up to your motto and to educate yourself on crucial issues like the utter idiocy of “gun-free zones,” tells me you are more comfortable in the first.

Oh, yeah, that’ll raise your hackles, I know. But simmer down, kid, and listen up…

—-Being exactly seven years and four months his senior (when he was born, I was already in second grade), I can say that—-

You, Bill O’Reilly, keeper of the so-called No-Spin Zone and purveyor of so-called non-spun commentary to the nation, YOU have a responsibility to do the right thing. But you aren’t doing it. It is, young man, high time you started. And that’s the memo…




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