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See Why Rolling Stone’s ‘5 Most Dangerous Guns’ List May Be the Best Internet Troll of All Time

Rolling Stone's 5 most dangerous guns list
July 17, 2014

Rolling Stone’s ‘5 most dangerous guns’ list is so stupid many will simply laugh at it and move on. But the article is getting lots of attention. Either through ignorance or dishonesty, it falsely implies that the number of guns traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) is the same as the number of guns used to commit crimes.

Rolling Stone’s ‘5 most dangerous guns’ list:

  1. Pistols
  2. Revolvers
  3. Rifles
  4. Shotguns
  5. Derringers

Obviously, this list contained not guns but categories of guns, the categories encompassing almost all guns in America. One of the entries is a subcategory of another.

The comments are hysterically funny. But that article will receive a high place in search results from now on, because people making fun of it are also linking to it and mentioning the title. It probably wasn’t intentional. It’s hard to be that dumb on purpose.

The comments lampooning the list include:

The top five albums of all time:

1. LP
2. EP
3. 78
4. 45
5. Shores of Old, California

The 5 Most Dangerous Places in America

1) Outside
2) Inside
3) America
4) Narnia
5) Baltimore

Here is a snippet of the article, so you get a flavor of how bad it actually is (emphasis added):

The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America

These are the firearms causing the most harm


Popular among handgun-owners, pistols are defined by their built-in barrel and short stock. They are the most commonly recovered firearm type reported by the ATF. With more than 119,000 pistols found at crime scenes in 2012, this handgun model holds an unfortunately solid first place in criminal weaponry.

One of the most popular pistols is the Glock, a short-recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol produced by Glock Ges.m.b.H. in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria. Glocks comprise 65 percent of the market share of handguns for United States law enforcement agencies and are also frequently used by international law-enforcement.

A general class of handguns is popular among handgun owners, according to Rolling Stone’s crack research team.

Another snippet:


Law enforcement agencies pulled more than 39,000 from crime scenes in 2012, firmly establishing this weapon — designed to be fired from the shoulder — in third place on the ATF’s trace list. Pulling the trigger of a rifle fires one projectile at the intended target, as opposed to the shotgun’s ability to spray. According to FBI latest publicly available homicide records, in 2012 rifles were used to murder more than 320 people.

Rifles were created to improve the accuracy of smoothbore muskets, for which the musket ball was often an bad fit due to manufacturing complications. Accurate and easy-to-aim, rifles are now the most common hunting weapon.

(“Accurate and easy-to-aim.”)

Law enforcement agencies “pulled more than 39,000” rifles from crime scenes in 2012, but rifles were only used in 320 murders? Something isn’t right with those numbers, and it’s this: The number of guns “found at crime scenes” may actually be the number of requests for ownership traces sent to BATF. (It’s hard to tell without explanation from the piece’s writer.) Those guns may be found at “crime scenes,” but are more likely guns found when law enforcement searches somewhere such as a car and finds a gun, possession of the gun being the only actual crime.

So the list of categories is just a list of categories, and Rolling Stone tricked the Internet into delivering people to its site for months or years to come.