This is just trivia, really: When I used to teach “Threat Weapons” and AK familiarization classes in Germany, our curriculum said that the Russian AK 47 had a maximum effective range of 300 meters (that’s about 330 yards) on semi-auto. On full-auto, it dropped to about 200 meters.
I’m not talking about a rifle’s maximum range — most modern assault rifles will shoot bullets the better part of a mile or more. Maximum effective range is the distance that a trained soldier, in combat, can shoot at an individual target (i.e., another soldier) and have a reasonably good expectation of hitting it. So it’s really just an estimate.
The murderer in Las Vegas fired on full automatic, and I read this morning that investigators believe he used an AK-type weapon. They also estimate that he fired down on the crowd from a range of about 500 yards.
That’s a distance of about 460 meters, using a weapon that’s only truly accurate in machine-gun mode out to about half that distance.
In other words, if the reporting proves correct, what happened in Vegas was blind, random, industrialized slaughter. The killer was less likely to hit someone in particular if he aimed straight at that person than if he just pointed his muzzle in his or her general vicinity and waved his gun around while holding the trigger.
And yet this one asshole killed more Americans in just a few minutes than the British Army did at the battles of Lexington and Concord, combined, on April 19, 1775.
Of course, the British only had muskets, and the effective range of their muzzle-loaded Brown Bess was only about 50 yards. Back in the 18th century, a rifle — even a single-shot rifle that took almost a minute to reload — was a military oddity.
Another piece of trivia: The 18th century is also the century when this country of ours adopted a constitutional amendment that began with these words: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”