By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Most of the death and destruction that was visited on Paris last week by terrorists was committed with the same deadly assault weapons that have been used right here by mass killers in movie theaters, malls and even elementary schools. James Holmes murdered twelve people in a Colorado movie theater not long ago. If there had been three of him, like at the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris, the death toll would have been in the scores. And if there had been a team of killers at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown Connecticut or the church in Charleston, South Carolina, the carnage would have been even worse.
The guns used in Paris and here in American cities, towns and villages are protected and fiercely defended by the National Rifle Association. In turn our representatives in Congress have done absolutely nothing to keep those weapons out of the hands of, well, almost anyone. Their silence is deafening. These guns are designed for the battlefield to kill as many enemy combatants as quickly as possible, and they do. Can you imagine the hue and cry by our politicians if those slaughters had been committed by someone named Mustafa with a Muslim background and jihad as his motivation? Candidates for President would be falling over each other with proposals to keep such weapons out of the hands of “those people.”
As things stand now, mass shootings happen regularly, albeit by American citizens against other American citizens. We condemn the criminals who commit those heinous crimes and then we turn the page and wait for the next such event and the one after that. All the while the NRA aided and abetted by Congress looks the other way and continues to promote those weapons. They oppose all but the most cursory background checks, they oppose registration of those weapons, they oppose a limit on the capacity of such weapons whereby dozens of bullets can be fired in seconds. They believe that persons should be able to carry those weapons into public places, concealed or not.
Now that we know with proof positive that ISIS terrorists and others are intent on not just rampaging through the Middle East, but also inspiring attacks on civilians in Europe and the United States using high powered assault weapons and other explosives, how do our politicians in Congress think that terrorists will get those weapons? Do they think that they will get through customs with such guns? Do they think that they will receive a priority express parcel from Syria with an AK-47? Of course not! They will easily purchase them locally from willing gun stores or gun expos in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama or in more than half of the states in America. And then they will be used to kill as many Americans as possible, men, women, children… it won’t matter.
In response to this logic the NRA cynically says that the answer is to arm more people and that will be a deterrent! Really? Arm more people? A deterrent? In case the NRA has not noticed the terrorists see themselves as martyrs to their cause and suicide is part of their plan. They will not be deterred by the thought of dying while killing. That is their ultimate objective. All they require is the means to carry out their attack. The NRA underwritten by gun manufacturers seem more than happy to provide that. A sale is a sale. After that it is someone else’s problem and funeral.
Proponents of an inviolate Second Amendment who believe that it is any person’s “right” to own any gun of their choosing are unwittingly arming America’s assassins. We are most definitely not made more safe but rather we are inviting and providing the means to commit murder and mayhem on a mass scale that surely is being contemplated even as you read this column.
If Newtown was not a sufficient wake-up call to restrict the access to these murderous assault weapons maybe Paris will be.