I bring this up because the Crime Museum in DC is putting the Remington 700 used by Charles Whitman on display. They have conveniently labelled it a "sniper rifle" for everyone to see. This is the article that spawned the whole thought process that went into researching all the stuff for this post: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2872736/Victims-1966-Texas-tower-shooting-angered-museum-s-recent-decision-display-sniper-s-rifle-bearing-handwritten-notes.html
One thing that always bothers me is how any criminal with a rifle who kills someone will invariably be called a "sniper." Heck, wikipedia lists 17 of them, not all of whom I am familiar with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:American_criminal_snipers
But I think they shouldn't be called, "snipers" for a few reasons.
1, we know their names, and this is because of reason number two...
2, they got caught or killed.
Now there may be 17 named "American Criminal Snipers" listed on wikipedia, but compare and contrast that to this excerpt from: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/19/us/hunt-for-sniper-historical-context-sniper-cases-prove-hardest-for-authorities.html
From 1976 to 2000, more than 500 people committed sniper attacks, killing at long range, and about 200 of these crimes, or 40 percent, remain unsolved, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports. By comparison, only 25 percent of all homicides go unsolved.So adopting even basic "sniper" practices increase your odds of getting away with murder by 15%? Seems like more criminals would have taken note of this by now.
''Because they kill from a distance, because the crime scene has little evidence and typically because the victims have no relationship to the shooter, there are very few clues for the police,'' Professor Fox said.
It is a very interesting segment of criminality, the people who are capable of mastering shooting at distances where discipline is required to master the skill, and the people who lack either the self control to not kill another human being. The ones who climb into a clock tower, who corner themselves, are really just people engaged in a long drawn out suicide. They aren't "snipers" so much as "active shooters" and active shooter scenarios always end with the shooter dying by a responder or by suicide (always is used as a rhetorical device, yes I know some have been taken alive by responders).
The "DC Snipers" weren't true snipers because they were simply killing targets of opportunity to create terror. The "DC Terrorists" would be a much better title. The rifle used didn't even have a scope on it, and shots were well inside the first third of the point blank range of the rifle.
Eric Frein would have come closer to the definition of a "sniper" as he had a getaway plan. Unfortunately he botched the exit, didn't take care of forensic evidence.
"Overall, of the 1,600 or 1,700 [serial slayings] I've personally cataloged, about 20 percent are unresolved," says Michael Newton, the author of the Encyclopedia of Serial Killers.
"It is very possible to get away with these kind of crimes," Newton says.
But in many cases, it was a simply good luck or a key mistake that led police to the attacker.
"It's often just a matter of luck. It really is," says Harold Schechter, a literature professor at Queens College in New York, who has written extensively about serial killers.http://www.wowktv.com/story/17204660/sniper-style-murder-at-grocery-store-still-unsolved
And while all this data is important is because it is the justification for the militarization of law enforcement. Of course the militarization of law enforcement will lead to the militarization of criminal organizations eventually. http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/chechinsurgtact.htm and http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/mexico-kills-zetas-founder-as-cartels-decline-continues
Of course none of this compares to the 1930s in terms of sheer violence per capita. But, to sum things up, the more like an actual sniper you are, the better off your chances are for a murder to go into the "unsolved category" but generally people who have that level of self discipline aren't slaves to their emotions or people who commit murder in the first place.
Gain or maintain skill. Plan the operation. OPSEC (keep the operation a secret). Execute the operation. OPSEC (don't get caught during the operation). Exfiltration. OPSEC (don't get caught leaving the scene of the crime). Mitigation. OPSEC (keeping your mouth shut). See how OPSEC is important to success?