After Miami police officer Jose Somohano was killed and three others wounded in 2007 with a high-power, assault style rifle, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, a former police officer and police director said, “There’s absolutely no reason I can see having these weapons out on the street.” The International Association of Chiefs of Police agreed and urged Congress to pass “an effective assault weapons ban,” condemning the “firepower available to criminals.”
Two years later in Oakland, four police officers were killed with high-power, assault weapons and, in Pittsburgh, three officers were killed and two injured with such weapons. Both the Pittsburgh murderer and this month’s Dallas murderer were legal gun owners whose “rights,” including the right to high-power weapons, the NRA defends.
Why is the NRA okay with assault weapons, armor-piercing bullets and high capacity magazines even when our law enforcement officers are sniped, ambushed and assaulted?
The reason, according to Joshua Holland writing in the Nation, is the insurgency interpretation of the Second Amendment “holds that Americans must have the right to own military-style weapons because a heavily armed populace is the last bulwark against a tyrannical government running amok.” Without civilian owned military-style weapons, goes the thinking, we could turn into tyrannies like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the 24 countries of the E.U.
“The whole point of firearm ownership is that it allows civilians to fight against agents of the government, be they law enforcement officers or members of the American military, should a situation arise when the government grossly violates the rights of American citizens,” says a gun advocate Holland quotes–in a chilling replication of the exact thinking behind the Dallas murders.
How can the gun lobby claim patriotism while hating the government asked veteran newsman Bill Moyers this week. “On the one hand, its supporters are mostly conservatives who believe in law and order, the kind of folks who value social and familial hierarchy and respect for authority. On the other hand, the group preaches contempt for government — and police are the spear point of government authority.”
After the shooting of four Miami police officers in 2007, the Washington Post noted that since the 2004 expiration of the federal assault weapons ban “the guns, once found solely in the hands of soldiers, are aimed at officers on patrol,” and that “already 12 of the 60 homicides have involved the high-power guns.” John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association at the time, said police did not even have a “fighting chance” against such weapons.
Since then, things have only gotten worse. In Dallas, the murderer’s weapons were so powerful, it looked at first like there were multiple snipers. The police, the “good guys with guns,” had to use a bomb to stop him. The NRA was strangely silent about the murderer with his legally bought guns.