CBS News leads the Dash to Dumb in their coverage of the Aurora shooting:
(CBS News) The well-armed shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre had a hit ratio twice what a police officer might achieve engaging with armed assailants in a street setting.
That suggests, says CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, that the suspect - who is believed to have planned his assault with precision - practiced shooting prior to the attack on the theater audience last Friday.
First, it would hardly be surprising if we eventually learn the shooter practiced somewhere. However, the statistical foundation presented here is a bit sandy:
"Here's an individual who we see kind of lolling in court but who went into that theater, actually shooting and hitting with bullets more than 52 people of the 70 injured," said Miller on "CBS This Morning." "Here's a guy who went in with what we think was about 100 rounds; that gives him a 50 percent hit ratio.
"From law enforcement, when you go on the range and you're shooting at a paper target - it is standing still and waits for you - that's a 90 to 94 percent hit ratio in a lot of places. In combat shooting in the street, police officers often hit in ranges of 21 to 25 percent of their targets."
Let's accept that street fighting figure for the moment (the NY Times compares the LAPD and the NYPD and is closer to the low 30s, but whatever.)
First, the police officers in street incidents were firing at a small number of humans (presumably, "one" was the most common number of targets); the Aurora shooter was firing into a large crowd. Even without training, I bet I could hit the broad side of a barn at ten paces. Similarly, I imagine that the Auurora shooter had plenty of "hits" where he missed his aim point but hit a different person downrange. If I recall correctly, people in adjoining theatres were hit by bullets passing through the wall - were these really well-aimed shots that boosted his hit rate?
Secondly, the shooter used a shotgun and a rifle. Surely one shotgun blast or one rifle round into a crowd could hit multiple targets. Would a bullet that wounded three people give the shooter a hit rate (on that shot) of 300%? Do police officers often (or ever?) fire in situations where a hit rate of 200% or 300% is possible?
Did the shooter practice? Quite likely. Do these stats demonstrate that? No.