One of the big changes in journalism I have seen during my career has been the emergence of "computer-aided reporting": the use of database technology to mine public records for all sorts of interesting tidbits that would previously been concealed in the sheer volume of data. I've blogged before about our own local expert in such reporting.
Because of my passing interest in such matters, this column in the New York Times a couple weeks ago caught my eye, essentially asking the question: " Just because we can do it, should we do it?" In response to the outcry that emerged from the Westchester County Journal News decision to publish their map of people who had applied for gun permits (apparently something they subsequently reconsidered), a Nebraska state senator introduced LB293, to insure that such a thing does not occur in Nebraska.
While trying to find the legislative bill number to include in this post, my search returned this article from NebraskaWatchdog.org. The photo illustrating the story also caught my eye. At first glance, that appears to be a rare Beretta Model 93R machine pistol, complete with extended magazine and folding foregrip. Something, however, was a little fishy. First of all, that's a mighty obscure item. Second, the grip material doesn't look quite right: perhaps some kind of plastic composite. Finally, there appears to be a mold mark on the underside of the trigger guard--unexpected on a quality firearm like a Beretta.
My guess is that we are looking at an airsoft pistol, most likely from Tokyo Marui. This certainly highlights the difficulty of distinguishing the real McCoy from the replica, and we are encountering realistic-looking BB guns, pellet guns, and airsoft pistols on the street with considerable frequency, brandished in crimes ranging from assault to robbery in some cases.