The news coverage of the Maryland "sniper" story has been appallingly bad, but so what else is new? The newsdroids haven't the faintest idea of what is going on, their paid experts and profilers are brimming with drivel, and the local police chief has to ask the reporters not to follow his investigators around. The only sensible, fact-based assessment of the killer that I have seen comes from Stephen Hunter, novelist and Washington Post movie critic. A very small excerpt:
His choice of weapon reveals something as well. It's notable that he hasn't selected a firearm or a cartridge that's linked to sniping as it's practiced professionally. The police have described the recovered fragments as being from a ".223 bullet," a particular vagueness that suggests they know a lot more than they're letting on or a lot less. In any event, the .223 family of cartridges -- it could also include a target round like the .222, a varmint round like the .22-250 or a specialized pistol round like the .221 Fireball -- aren't part of authentic sniper practice or the more informal "sniper culture" that surrounds this most disturbing but necessary of jobs. Most government and police snipers use a .308 Winchester rifle because it is far more lethal (its muzzle-energy, which measures force in pounds by mathematical formula, is around 2,300 pounds, while the .223's is around 1,200; in most states the .223 -- or any .22 centerfire -- is illegal for deer hunting because it wounds without killing too frequently.) The .223, as a combat round, has proved disappointing; one merely has to read "Black Hawk Down" or the specialized gun press to sample the discontent with its performance in Mogadishu or Afghanistan.Much more by following the link.
But again: He's not a dummy. That caliber has some extremely useful features for him. Since he's not a soldier in a firefight shooting someone who is shooting at him or a police marksman ending a hostage situation, he's not concerned with immediate killing power, as they would be. He can wound grievously, even fatally; it doesn't matter to him when, or even if, death arrives. He creates the same miasma of terror, regardless.