Police Are Outgunned and the Gun Lobby is Okay With It
It has been almost ten years since Miami police officer Jose Somohano was killed and three others wounded with a high-power, assault style rifle. At the time, 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.”
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, banned the manufacture for civilian use of semi-automatic firearms defined as assault weapons as well as “large capacity” magazines. The ban was passed by the U.S. Congress on September 13, 1994 and allowed to expire ten years later.
While the ban had serious loopholes, the Washington Post wrote after the Miami murders that since its 2004 expiration “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.
Flash forward to last summer when 18 police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge were shot with assault weapons–a Saiga AK-74 and a TAVOR. The New Orleans Advocate wrote that “the notion of putting such weapons in civilian hands would be regarded as insane in any other country,” as the TAVOR, according to its manufacturer, fires 900 rounds a minute. Nor were the murderers “bad guys who don’t obey laws.” They had passed their background checks and legally bought their high-power weapons with which they killed police, so the gun lobby was silent. You can’t abridge “gun rights.” (The lobby was also silent about Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez who passed his background check and killed four Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga in 2015.)
Two years after the Miami police officer killings four police officers were killed in Oakland with high-power, assault weapons and, in Pittsburgh, three officers were killed and two injured with such weapons.
The Pittsburgh murderer, Richard Poplawski, was a violent white supremacist who bought a semi-automatic AK-47-style legally despite his involvement with hate groups, domestic violence charges and an order of protection against him.
After the Dallas and Baton Rouge law enforcement officers were murdered, veteran news man Bill Moyers asked how the gun lobby can claim patriotism while hating the government. “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.”
He’s right. The “patriotic” NRA defends armor-piercing “cop killer” bullets and criminal-friendly gun silencers. Why? Whose side is it on? It defends the gun show, online and terrorist suspect loopholes all of which result also in law enforcement officer deaths.
A gun rights website actually praises the TAVOR used to murder Baton Rouge officers in cold blood. The TAVOR is great for “close quarters-style fighting” says the site and “is exceedingly compact” which “makes it much easier to sneak the gun in and out of your apartment building.” What?