As we have pointed out many times, television police shows seem to think criminals are constantly using machine guns to shoot people, that they are massively outgunning police officers who are using only semi-automatic weapons. Some shows claim AR-15s are machine guns. But this episode on NBC’s Chicago PD implies that semi-automatic handguns are machine guns (Season 7, Episode 17, March 18, 2020). Of course, this episode also has the criminals outgunning the police, though the police still win out in the end despite the criminals having superior firepower.
In real life, criminals use machine guns so rarely that a 2016 survey of prison inmates only broke down the numbers for uses of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The survey did not even mention fully automatic weapons. Since 1934, there are only two know uses ever of a machine gun being used in a murder. And even before 1934, they were very rare.
The first five segments here are from ABC’s The Rookie, one episode from NBC’s Chicago PD, and two episodes from CBS’s Magnum PI. Police are the targets in all but one of the below episodes from the 2018-19 Season (the single exception is the first episode of Magnum PI). This list is probably very far from exhaustive. One question is where do these television show writers think that the criminals are obtaining all these machine guns, certainly not at your local gun store.
The Rookie (Season1): E2, E4, E9, E17, E20
Magnum PI (Season 1): E1, E15
Chicago P.D. (Season 6): E14
In the current 2019-2020 season, we haven’t been keeping close track, but other recent examples include:
CBS’ SWAT (Season 3): E11 January 15 2020
CBS’ FBI (Season 2): E12 January 14, 2020; Episode 18, March 24, 2020
Fox’s Deputy (Season 1): E1 January 2, 2020
FBI: Most Wanted (Season 1): Episode 4, January 28, 2020; Episode 6, February 18, 2020, Episode 9, March 24, 2020
Chicago PD, S7, E10 January 8, 2020; S7 E16, March 4, 2020; Season 7, Episode 17, March 18, 2020.
Hawaii Five-O, Season 10, Episode 18, February 28, 2020; Episode 20, March 13, 2020; Episode 21, March 27, 2020
Other examples of television media bias on this particular point can be found here.