Why Is This Not A “Weapon Of Mass Destruction”?


One of the more striking things about the charges against Dzhokar Tsarnaev is the use of a “weapon of mass destruction.” Legally, that’s certainly valid, given the current definition in the US criminal law with respect to terrorism:

any “destructive device” defined as any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas – bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce, mine, or device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses

any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors

any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life

That includes a pressure-cooker Internet-recipe bomb that killed 3 people and injured many more. But why is a version of an AR-15, as used by Adam Lanza, that killed 28 human beings, not treated the same way? Why was that act not treated as a suicide bombing would be? If something that kills three people is responsible for “mass destruction”, why not a military weapon that can kill 28 and end in suicide? The AR-15 can be adapted to have a hundred bullets in a Beta C-Mag magazine. Here’s a fantastically phallic drawing of how many bullets can be fired:


You could kill dozens of people with those large, bullet-packed balls – and a terrorist could murder and maim many more human beings than were killed and injured in Boston. But it isn’t legally or technically a weapon of “mass” destruction.  In fact, having one is a constitutional right.

Is this a great country, or what?