Former sheriff David Clarke humiliated himself on Twitter today.
The broader Twitter commentariat was actually a bit slow to take note because Clarke’s initial tweet appeared on Monday morning.
At 8:02 a.m. on February 26, the former sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin wrote:
Stop already. An AR-15 is NOT a military weapon. It is SEMI-automatic which means one trigger pull-one bullet fired. Military uses FULLY AUTO rifles. ONE trigger pull can empty a magazine. A soldier would NOT go to war using an AR-15. It would be crazy.
Clarke’s statement, directed to former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, was incorrect on multiple levels and multiple users were eager to point that out.
Twitter user Brad Marks noted, “The modern, standard issue is an M-4. An M–4 is semi auto, 1 trigger pull, 1 bullet. Our soldiers, sailors, and Marines DO go to war with these weapons. There is a burst option on the selector switch, but it will not empty a magazine, as it fires 3 rounds at a time.”
The modern, standard issue is an M-4. An M–4 is semi auto, 1 trigger pull, 1 bullet. Our soldiers, sailors, and Marines DO go to war with these weapons. There is a burst option on the selector switch, but it will not empty a magazine, as it fires 3 rounds at a time.
— Brad Marks (@Bmarks3502) February 27, 2018
Indeed, the M4 carbine is the standard issue infantry weapon for both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. Military.com notes, “[The M4 carbine] is now the standard issue firearm for most units in the U.S. military.” The M4 is capable of firing in semi-automatic and three-round burst modes. It does not have a fully automatic firing feature. Here, Clarke is completely wrong.
(Clarke may be confused by an ongoing effort–enacted in 2014 and scheduled to be completed in 2019–by the U.S. Army to upgrade many M4 carbines to the M4A1 carbine, which does have a fully automatic firing mode. In any event, the M4A1, like the M4, is a carbine–not a rifle. So, Clarke’s claim regarding “FULLY AUTO rifles” is still wrong no matter how you parse it.)
Older variants of the M16 rifle (which the U.S. military adapted from the ArmaLite AR-15 rifle) previously used as standard issue weapons by various branches of the U.S. armed forces–such as the M16A2 and the M16A4–are similarly not equipped with fully automatic action like Clarke believes.
But that’s not all. Clarke’s understanding of what happens on the battlefield is also a bit lacking.
The U.S. Army specifically doesn’t want troops to empty their magazines in a spray of bullets–and this is what tends to happen when inexperienced soldiers use fully-automatic weapons, according to Richard Venola, a former writer for Guns and Ammo and author of a history book on the AR-15.
According to various U.S. troops who have actually seen battle, their use of the three-round burst mode is itself an exception to the rule of sticking to semi-automatic (one trigger pull, one bullet) fire–and using any issued weapon’s fully automatic feature is an extremely rare occurrence if it even happens at all.
In other words, one trigger pull will almost certainly never empty a magazine and U.S. soldiers frequently go to war using weapons effectively similar to the AR-15’s action all the time. It’s not crazy. In fact, it’s standard.
Clarke’s thirsty desire to school Rice resulted in the former sheriff himself receiving an education himself.
[image via screengrab]
Editor’s note: this article was amended after publication for clarity on weapons terminology.