Was a “Non-Gun” Used in the WDBJ Shooting Hoax?

by Scott Creighton (H/T M)

UPDATE: Or… maybe not. At the end of the article, there are two screenshots taken from Adam Ward’s footage which appears to show something moving on a trajectory that is what you would expect of a shell casing being ejected from Flanagan’s gun. It is only one and Flanagan fires multiple times during that clip while in focus. But it is there. It could have been added post production since all we have seen of that video was what was released by the station (not a screen-grab from the original “live” shot) or, as a reader pointed out, it may have indeed been two takes. There’s nothing to prove it was a live feed from that location. Either way, it doesn’t detract from the other, important evidence which strongly suggests this was a staged event. Either by a “non-gun” or blanks, evidence shows this was a staged event.


A reader left me an interesting link. It’s a side-by-side comparison video of a real Glock 9 millimeter handgun firing real rounds compared to what we saw on the WDBJ shooting video. I thought you should see it. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Pay attention to the lack of muzzle flash on the real gun (left) and the lack of cartridges being ejected on the fake one (right)

After watching the video, I did a little research on the subject of something called “non-guns” because it occurs to me that people wont understand what it is Flanagan may have been firing that would have produced that exact effect, live on the video, with no editing or CGI. I have worked on several films and TV productions over the course of my life (Major Payne (my only IMDB credit), Cherry Falls (my only onscreen film credit as prop-maker (Raymond S. Creighton)), Forces of Nature and others) and of course, studied theater as an actor and director in college. I am aware of the kinds of props they appeared to be using in the WDBJ shooting event, but understand most people are not. So, after reviewing that video I wanted to make it a little clearer to people what exactly they may have been seeing.

A “non-gun” is something they created to use on films, TV and even sometimes in live theater performances to simulate the look, sound and flash of a real weapon safely, without the use of blanks which can be very problematic and even dangerous if not handled by professionals.

If you watch the video above you will notice that you can see cartridges being ejected from the right side of the gun, the real one on the left. You’ll notice that doesn’t happen on the video on the right.

You’ll also notice something I mentioned early in my investigation into this event and that is, on that deck, with that sound from the original video, you would hear those cartridges hitting the floor (go here and listen to the video without the static the makers of this video use to cover the screaming). You would see them for the first few shots and you would definitely hear them bouncing on that deck.  But you don’t and there’s probably a good reason for that:

… they used a non-gun for the shoot.

There are replicas of firearms that can make a sound but do not use blanks. Known generally as non-guns, they were supposed to be the final savior for all performers needing to safely fire a weapon. For film use, they’ve been acceptable. Unfortunately for theatre, the hype was greater than the reward, so we don’t carry them.

Non-guns are battery operated devises that electronically ignite pre-packaged squibs within the housing of the replica. Squibs are very small explosive charges used for a variety of pyrotechnic effects. In the case of a non-gun, an electric circuit is completed when the trigger of the replica is squeezed, causing the squib hidden inside to explode. Depending on the manufacturer, there might be some flash visible from the barrel...

…Non-guns also have limitations for film. The replicas are solid shells with no moving parts, so there is no way to pretend to load the gun, no brass cases ejecting after each shot of a semi-auto or automatic weaponsWeapons of Choice

According to the official story, Vester Lee Flanagan II used a Glock 19 9mm pistol for the shooting. You can see it in his hand.

Here is a Glock 19 9mm non-gun prop.

ISS is one of the few providers of these working props in the country. On their website, they list the weekly rental price of a Glock 19 non-gun at $99.00. They also explain their product takes a variety of squib loads for whatever effect you are looking for.



Weekly Cost: $99.00*

Quantity Owned: 1

There are other manufacturers out there with a variety of styles of the non-gun, but mostly they all seem to fit the same mold.

You have a loud prop-gun which produces more of a muzzle flash than real weapons do while ejecting no cartridges.

This is not too say this manufacturer had anything to do with producing this video, if indeed it was a hoax. This article is just providing a little background which may shed some more light on the event itself and how it was conducted.

A “non-gun” would certainly answer a lot of questions, wouldn’t it?


Update: The following screen-shots are taken from a pretty clear version of Adam Ward’s video. It appears to be a shell casing ejecting from his gun.

scratch 1scratch 2

Is it possible this effect was added post production? It’s impossible too say since everything since the “live” broadcast is a video released by the station. The lack of casings being ejected from a “non-gun” is a well known drawback to using them and certainly would have been something they would have considered prior to it’s use. The fact that there is no audio evidence of the casing hitting the deck is telling as well. But, for the record, there is something that at least appears to be ONE casing being ejected in the Ward video (still none in the Flanagan version)

15 Responses

  1. This is pretty damning.

    However, in Adam Ward’s live video, it does look like you can see shell casings after the camera is dropped/put down. (It does not look like the same shots as in Flanagan’s video here). Two separate takes?…

    • I’m watching it now. Seems like he is a lot further behind Ward in Ward’s video than he seems in his. In his, the gun is right beside Ward’s shoulder. In Ward’s video he is standing several feet behind him. But I don’t know if that is because of how Ward when down. And there does seem to be ONE cartridge or something that is moving on a cartridge’s expected trajectory in the video. But only one.

      Good comparison video, here.

      • Haven’t had a chance to read all the new stuff and posts today, but, yeah, it must be two shots or a postproduction thing like you are talking about (simultaneous cgi or something?)

  2. haha, the more I watch this (and watching the real thing fire side-by-side in slo mo makes it even that much more comical…) the more laughable it becomes… I mentioned the muzzle flash in one of my 1st posts about this video, which looked totally wrong/fake, but the woman’s reaction (the 1st shot appears to be definitely aimed well enough to strike her in the upper torso, right boob area…) and she just flinches up her right shoulder, ducks her head a little bit and starts to turn her right shoulder away from the shooter, and pivot away to her right, away from the shooter, as he fires the next couple of rounds (which appear to be poorly aimed, and may have been “near-misses”, erm, if they were “real” slugs), but that 1st shot appears dead-on upper torso, and there is no bodily draw-back/hunch-over, as someone would do who just had a 9 mil slug travelling at 1500 ft/sec pop them in the tit… if you look closely, you can’t see any indentation/fabric movement anywhere in the general vicinity of where the slug would have made impact if it did hit her in the soft tissue of her right breast, or anywhere else in her upper torso…
    There isn’t enough time for blood to show (and would be hard to see against her black sweater, regardless, kinda like Lee Harvey Oswald, when Ruby shot him in a brightly lit photo op… another faked assassination… ), but you would definitely see the fabric/skin move from the slug impact… It’s not like she got hit with a .28 gauge insulin syringe in the torso, it’s a 9 mil slug travelling at a high rate of speed, for gosh sake, and you would immediately feel that impact and it would burn like hell, and if impacting any internal organs, like lungs, major arteries, etc, I think there would be some noticeable physical effects from the woman!
    If you have ever seen the high-speed film of a slug-impact on an apple or other objects, you can see the slug drilling a hole into the object (before the object, ie, apple, basically explodes…)
    I would think, no matter how quick-witted you might be, after being drilled in the chest with a 9 mil, your left hand would go up the impact site, to see what the hell just hit you and stung like that hottest damn wasp you ever got stung by, rather than just flinch away and immediately get up on your toes and high-tail it out of frame… granted, the shooter is standing there, 6-8 feet away, and you would hear the discharge noise from the weapon, but you would be in such a state of shock and confusion, I just don’t buy how quickly she was able to react and initiate a flight response…
    anyway, great side-by-side dissection of the shooting vs the real thing… so many holes… pathetic…

  3. I take that back, it appears the 1st shot goes towards her upper abdomen and the 2nd could be a head shot, but then that would drop her in her tracks…
    Again, her sweater doesn’t move from the slug-impact, no white skin shows through any hole cut by the slug through the fabric, etc… yawn…

  4. Reblogged this on Dreams of Liberty and commented:
    Just makes you think…

  5. Surprised nobody has mention virtual reality sim training… As in the reporter and the lady being interviewed is a pre recorded green screen and the only one there was the camera man and that’s why the shooter had to stay behind him. Just do a search, there are many articles and video showing police and military using this method for training purposes. I’m sure when this was developed it was for training but since then they have figured it will work good for hoaxes also.

  6. Things that make you go…..Hmmmmm……
    Naw, they wouldn’t have a drill go live AGAIN, in Boston AGAIN, & on Sept 11 AGAIN, right??


    Linxx Global Solutions, a government services provider based in Virginia Beach, VA, will be providing realistic scenario training to the U.S. Department of Defense in the Boston, MA area. Linxx is looking to hire male and female Independent Contractors (ICs). These ICs will act be Role Players acting as terrorists, bad guys, and hostages. This training will take place in several locations around the city in 2 different sessions. Session 1 is 10-11, 14-16 Sep. Session 2 is 16-18, 21-23.

  7. What nobody seems to be mentioning is it isn’t just the lack of casings … the slide doesn’t appear to cycle. Sure, the poor quality may miss the casing, but there’s a whole lot of other things going on too .. the slide cycles, exposing the barrel, the empty casing is ejected, and the next round is pushed up and forward through the exposed ejection port into the chamber . Watch the video around the 48 second mark and you’ll see all 4 of these things in one frame. In the WDBJ video you see NONE of them .. even if the video qualitity was too poor to catch the casing, you should be able to see the slide caught at some point in the cycle.

    This seems to be consistent with theatrical non-guns, and I quote:

    “Non-guns also have limitations for film. The replicas are solid shells with no moving parts, so there is no way to pretend to load the gun, no brass cases ejecting after each shot of a semi-auto or automatic weapons, no movement of the carriage of a semi-auto”

    Let me repeat that: “no movement of the carriage of a semi-auto”

  8. A non-gun is perfect in a non-shooting. Period.

  9. […] and putting a gun to his head. Even a stunt man would find that challenging with only two hands. Hollywood prop experts say the Glock 19 gun used in the shooter’s film does not fire anything …. Hollywood uses a “Non-Gun” to make it look real, because shooting blanks can cause […]

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