Monday, December 10, 2007

AK-47s and civil society

So, it's happened again.

This time in Omaha, Nebraska.

An extremely disturbed young man with an AK-47 automatic assault rifle attacks an upscale store in a large shopping mall before taking his own life.

Unfortunately, events like this don't surprise us anymore, do they?

Maybe I just don't get it, but do we really need to be able to purchase and own AK-47s? Is this what the Second Amendment really had in mind? And, weapons like this have nothing to do with game hunting.

I can hear my boo birds already. "If you make guns like this illegal, you'll just create an underground market. You can't control guns by making them against the law," etc., etc., etc.

I don't buy it.

Assault weapons, designed for only one purpose--the taking of human life--should be against the law. The manufacture, sale and ownership of weapons like this should not be allowed in this country. Anyone caught making, selling, owning or using such a weapon, except the U. S. military or law enforcement officials, ought to be charged with a felony offense. Those who manufacture and sell such weapons for any non-military use should pay a price.

Gun violence continues to be a major problem in urban America. Here in Dallas it seems like we read a story a day about death by guns.

No one is arguing against hunting or the right to organize for national defense.

But, AK-47s? Come on.

Since writing this, we have watched reports on two more shootings in Colorado. At this time it is uncertain if they are connected. Early reports indicate that they may be. Both involve people of faith as targets of the shooter(s). One report I heard interviewed a witness who mentioned seeing the shooter with "an automatic assault rifle." No relationship between this type of weapon and any rational reading of the Second Amendment. When will this madness end? When will we demand steps be taken that could at least make such insanity much more difficult and subject to tighter regulation and penalties?



JD said...

Amen Larry.

Eric Livingston said...

Hopefully our lawmakers don't legislate based on potential underground markets. They should outlaw assault weapons just because it's the right thing to do.

Frankly I'll add this: any Christian who thinks the 2nd amendment (and the right to mow down large game with assault weapons) supercedes Jesus' gospel of peace and God's prophets calling His people to a vision where we beat our swords into plowshares, just doesn't understand the Bible.

c hand said...

The Omaha killings were carried out inside a gun-free zone. This fact contributed to the carnage as much as the type of weapon sellected. (a shotgun could do about as much damage) Thankfully someone at the Colorado Springs church was familliar with Luke22:36 and responded justly. Assault weapons should be regulated...and they are.

SeriousSummer said...

I found the most shocking thing was that a church had armed guards, and apparently, at least this one time, needed them.

Larry James said...

Sorry, chand, assault weapons should be banned.

belinda said...

Definitely, assault weapons should be banned!!! A shotgun may be able to do as much damage, but it'd take much longer. These weapons allow people to kill in a matter of seconds.

I do find this interesting. Weren't we given "warning" a few months ago about mall terrorists attacks?? While this wasn't an official terrorist, we have absolutely nothing in place to stop things like this from happening. Homeland Security makes me feel so safe. UGH

Sebastian said...

Before you guys can really say "Assault weapons ought to be banned", you need to say what an assault weapon is?

Is an assault weapon a machine gun? Well, those are already banned. Have been for decades. The assault weapons ban didn't apply to them. Do you know what the assault weapons ban actually banned?

And I'm not sure this church actually had hired professional armed security. Based on what CNN is saying, she's a parishioner, and has a Concealed Weapons Permit from the state of Colorado. The gun she used was her own private gun.

Do you guys really believe the bible says you have to turn the other cheek in face of someone trying to kill you?

c hand said...

Ok ban them. What have you accomplished? I would support one if we could in turn arm two percent of the women in every crowd. Does CDM have someone like this?

Eric Livingston said...

Sebastian, I don't think the issue of Christian response to someone trying to kill you had even been addressed here.

Since you bring it up though, what do you think Jesus says about self defence? I'd say this is a tough issue (which again is totally separate from our earlier discussion about firearms that should be illegal). Jesus did indeed say "turn the other cheek" and "offer your robber your shirt too" and then in a coup like fashion, he took the Roman oppressors' symbol of control, violence, and dominance - The cross - and willingly gave his life on it, thereby subversively upending the empire's control.

To speak directly to your question, yes, I think there are some situations where a Jesus follower would be called to turn his cheek in the face of death. I think Jesus' words and actions reflect that. A senseless mall shooting wouldn't be on that list for me. I wouldn't just jump in front of a bullet and call that an action done in the name of Christ. But I could envision scenarios where my obligation to justice and mercy in the world could cost my life. That would by no means be easy, but following Jesus is sometimes hard.

Don't usually promote my own blog here on Larry's site, but check my blog at for scenarios in Darfur that could call for Christians to stand up for justice, even to the point where it could cost lives.

karen said...

c hand @ 12:12 PM,

When you say...

"The Omaha killings were carried out inside a gun-free zone. This fact contributed to the carnage..."

are you suggesting it would have been preferable for the mall not to have been 'gun-free' and for others to have been blazing away with their firearms as well? Surely not.

For those here who are parsing words about types of assault weapons, where, pray tell, in civil society, do we have need of these sorts of weapons? You don't need these to shoot Bambi, do you?

I don't think a shotgun is anywhere near as dangerous as an AK-47. I'm curious as to why you would defend the right to have access to them.

c hand said...

I'm just thankful that the New Life church was not a gun free zone. Reports stated that the killer had enough ammo to kill hundreds. He killed four before he was stoped by a christian woman with a gun. Thank God for her and her gun.

Larry James said...

It should not be easier in this nation to obtain an automatic weapon than a doctor, but it is. My point is we should take steps to make it extremely difficult to get any sort of weapon and we should make automatic weapsons of the type used in Omaha illegal.

BTW--chand, good to hear from you. Where have you been?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you...for the most part. There really is no need for them to be legal. They probably should be illegal. But as for "no reason other than killing people..." Have you ever shot one? I haven't shot an ak-47 but my father owns an AR-15 (i think is what it is--showing my ignorance, but I know the AR stands for assault rifle so i guess it qualifies) and we take it out on a deer lease in off-season and target shoot. may not justify 'em, and they're abused a lot, but for those who just use for target shooting they're a lot of fun! they should be harder to get, but so should drugs, etc. it seems if you're in the right/wrong circles you can get anything fairly easily.

interesting posts from chand...

c hand said...

Hey Larry-
Again, Praise God for Jeanne Assam her courage and her gun. Can I get an Amen?

Larry James said...

chand, Ms Assam is an example of a legitimate armed citizen, in her case a professional security person who did act with great courage.

The Omaha Mall didn't need everyone armed, just adequate security personnel. I am not saying no one should have weapons, just not everyone and not of the kind we have been seeing in these tragic events. And punishment should become more severe at the supply end of the chain, just like with narcotics.

c hand said...

Jeanne Assam was a church member providing VOLUNTEER protection to her fellow members. The Omaha mall was a gun-free zone and thus "protected" with unarmed gaurds. Are you now calling for armed gaurds inside "gun-free" zones?
Question: What is a common tread in these mass killings? Omaha mall, KC mall, Virginia Tech, Columbine and other school shootings
Answer: Gun-free zones
The killers want soft targets, no one shooting back

Larry James said...

c hand, I understand that she was a volunteer at the time of the incident, but a trained professional nonetheless.

Yes, in view of the obscene number of firearms available and on our streets and in our communities and in view of the lax enforcement standards employed today, I am in favor of professional, ARMED security personnel in high-traffic areas. I am not in favor of all the rest of us being armed. And, I am against any private citizen having access to assault weapons.

And, I agree, Ms Assam is a hero. No doubt she saved lives by her quick, professional action. But, let's not confuse the issues.

Sebastian said...

I'm in favor of trained armed professionals as well. But what makes someone a professional? Because they get paid to do it? Most security guards receive very little training in firearms use. Most police officers don't honestly receive much more. At least not that much more than the training required to a get a license to carry a concealed firearm in most states.

You shouldn't think so little of your fellow citizens. I think they can be trusted to do the right thing most of the time, as happened in this case, and in other mass shootings that have been stopped by citizens with their private arms.

James Chapman said...

Its not the weapons,its the parents,or lack there of,we have a bunch of stupid kids brought up in public schools,who havent been taught to respect themselves nevermind the lives of other people,in short so called assault weapons are not to blame,parents are,if you people would take back your right to parent from this sorry government,you wouldnt have to blame guns,or maybe you like passing the blame.

Daniel Gray said...

Yes, Mr. Chapman -- It's those stupid, poor, lazy, public school kids. God forbid their lazy parents make enough money to send them to private education, because private education is flawless. (I realize in light of your reductionist logic, I need to say this -- I was being sarcastic.)

But I agree with you -- parents should be doing more. That being said, when temptation is staring you right in the face, it's nearly impossible to overcome it. Getting these mass-murder weapons off of the public market will greatly aid in fighting this problem.

Question to all of you gun nuts (Those who favor a completely unregulated gun industry): Do you think we should police the rights of other countries (Iraq, Iran, North Korea, etc.) so that they cannot build weapons of mass destruction?

Larry James said...

It seems to me, Daniel, that some of my readers are missing the very practical point: automatic assault weapons have no place in a civil, democratic society. Sebastian's argument reminds me of an old Archie Bunker skit. Archie's solution to airline hi-jacking: "Pass out the 45s when you get on the plane and end to the problem!"

Mr. Chapman really doesn't like people who send their children to public schools and he likely thinks even less of our government. Wonder if he has an assault rifle?

In the case of the Colorado shotings over this past weekend, there seemed to be a heavy involvement with private educational groups with Christian backgrounds.

None of this was my point. We don't need, nor should we allow the sale of automatic assault weapons to ordinary citizens.

James Chapman said...

First of all I dont know how an American family could have been any poorer than we were when I was comeing up, and my parents were in no way lazy, I went to public school until I was able to quit,even back then schools were teaching the anti-gun stuff,I was taught gun safty from the minute I learned to crawl,my dad thought it important,as he did as he and mom taught me to respect other people as well as their property,I just dont think people should blame other people,or in this case objects for their problems.You anti-gunners before debating should also should learn the facts,automatic weapons are illegal period,you cant own them unless you pay alot of money an get an O.K. from the goverment,the weapon the boy used in the shootings was a semi-automatic,which only fires one time per trigger pull,these weapons have been around for decades,why do you think just in the past 20 years there have been so many shootings,the laws are more strict than 20 years ago,its not the weapons, its the kids are not being taught right from wrong.

Daniel Gray said...

Larry, thanks for the Archie Bunker reference, although it's before my time. Bart Simpson analogies work well with me. :)

I guess I'm a little shocked to see the anti-gun control people come out of the woodwork so strongly on this blog. What bothers me is that many of the people who advocate for unregulated gun control are the same people who advocate for us to be policing the rest of the world and telling people what kinds of weapons they can manufacture. The logic is completely inconsistent.

James Chapman said...

Sorry for spelling and paragraghs,Ive only had a computer three months and dont know how to work it very well.

Daniel Gray said...

James, I agree with what you're saying. But stopping violence in our culture is multi-faceted. We need to better educate our kids. We need to get rid of the violence our kids see on TV (and in our political policy) every day. But frankly, we also need to get rid of the guns that serve no purpose but to get into the wrong hands.

That being said, I've got a great idea for deer hunting this season -- mustard gas. That deer will never see it coming. Talk about an easy kill.

I hope that illustration makes a point: there are some things that really have no purpose in our society. And by the way, the assault weapon ban expired in 2004 and has not been renewed.

Sebastian said...

You're making assumptions that aren't necessarily true. I don't agree with zero regulation. I think it's constitutional to keep firearms out of the hands of the criminally irresponsible and mentally ill. I think the government can take reasonable measures, which don't interfere with an honest citizen's second amendment right to bear arms, in order to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. I definitely don't support unrestricted access to nuclear weapons.

Also, we're not talking about fully automatic assault rifles here. Those are already illegal. We're talking about self-loading, or semi-automatic rifles that fire one shot per trigger pull, that are patterned after military rifles. They function no differently than other common firearms. The expired federal ban applied only to cosmetic features on certain firearms because there is no functional distinction which can distinguish them from other guns that don't look scary.

Any gun in the hands of someone intent on murder is dangerous. I support some measures to keep them from getting them. But I don't support banning them for everyone. I think better of my fellow citizens than to treat them like criminals or children in that regard.

Larry James said...

Fact: the ease and accessibility of fire arms in the U. S. explains in large part the statistical variance when our nation is compared to other nations in terms of firearm violence and death. This is especially true in the cities of our nation. The rapid fire, the excessive caliber and the accessibility of these weapons is a huge factor in the violence we see. Plus, no one buys weapons like this for sporting purposes.

mark said...

I am a home schooling parent who hates when the national media points out a person was home shooled when committing a crime put never points out that they were public schooled. So, to be consistent reports out of Co. are the killer was home schooled. James I agree the blame is on the parents, and I obviously agree that public schools are not for my children but the blame is'nt 100% anywhere.

SeriousSummer said...

Just tom head off the inevitable criticism, I own guns. I've shot for over 45 of 55 years on this earth. I've hunted deer, birds and small game. My Dad still shoots as does my brother.

But none of us kill any longer. There is no longer enough game in our vicinities to need killing--and we'd all rather see wild animals than eat them, if those are the choices.

I will tell you that I see no reason for semi-automatic weapons. I see no reason for hand guns. I see no reason for any gun that shoots more than one shot per barrel (I'd say nothing but single shot rifles and shot guns, if a double on birds wasn't so pretty).

Except maybe in Alaska, nobody in the USA hunts for food now (yes, you may eat what you shoot, but you won't go hungry otherwise).

Shooting with a single shot rifle or shot gun is just as sporting--maybe more so--than shooting with a semiautomanic weapon.

For home protection, nothing beats a shot gun. I guarnatee that if I ever feel it necessary to shoot at someone, there is no chance that I will miss with my single shot shotgun.

One shot per barrel, then reload. Unles you're intent on a massacre, then there is no reason for anything else.

Sebastian said...


Just because you say it's fact doesn't make it so. Even the CDC has concluded that the gun laws don't make much of a difference in our crime rate. And you're an export on what the various shooting sports are now? Ever participate in a service rifle match with an AR-15? No? If you had, you'd know they do, in fact, have sporting uses.

And what is "excessive caliber"? Most crimes are actually committed with small caliber firearms because they are easier to conceal. Your old brown bess muskets have a caliber much larger than anything in use today.

Sebastian said...


I agree that a shotgun is a fine home defense gun, but what happens if you're faced with more than one attacker? Or your first shot doesn't drop him? Shotguns have a very high first time percentage stop rate, but guns aren't magic. If single shot weapons were that effective, the police wouldn't carry pump and semi-auto shotguns and firearms. The reason they do is because they are the most effective self-defense tools.

Larry James said...

I would agree that the gun laws we currently have aren't very effective. That is my entire point here. So, Sebastian, the CDC and I agree!

Go after the dealers. Make it harder to get a gun, register a gun and qualify to own a gun.

Ever been to a gun show? Here in Dallas it appears to me, when I have gone to such events, that you can buy just about anything you want with very little red tape at these gun expositions.

We can expect the mass murders to continue so long as the regulatory process remains as lax as it currently is.

Sebastian said...

I have been to many gun shows. To buy a gun you have to fill out an affidavit declaring you're the actual purchaser of the gun, and that you're not a convicted felon, a fugitive from justice, addicted to or an unlawful user of a controlled substance, that you've never been committed to a mental facility or adjudicated mentally defective. If you lie on this form, it's a felony, and you can do 10 years.

After that, the dealer will call the National Instant Check System, and verify that everything you said on the form checks out. If it doesn't, the person buying has committed a crime and is liable for prosecution.

You could add licensing and registration, but try this mental exercise. You hold up the license, and I'll hold up the registration. Pretend the pen I'm holding is a gun. Now explain to me, how using only those two pieces of paper, how you're going to stop me from shooting you?

Anonymous said...

Oh, now Sebastian is threatening to shoot people...

See what happens when you let people have guns... they threaten you.

Sebastian said...

Pretty clearly it was a rhetorical exercise designed to show that licenses and registration don't stop someone intent on using an object as a weapon. Come on now.

Larry James said...

Sebastian, you still don't get my point. There should be no "point of service" verification. You should have to apply, be checked out over a period of time to verify the results of such a search and then, and here is what you aren't getting, prosecute to the fullest extent of the law the seller who provides short cuts to guns. Send the suppliers to jail.

I'd like to know how the Omaha and Colorado Springs/Arvada shooters got their weapons. Do you know?

Sebastian said...

Omaha shooter was prohibited from buying guns legally. He would have failed the NICS check. He stole the firearm from his step father. Step father may be liable for that. I'm not sure the specifics of Nebraska law.

Not clear yet on Colorado, though it seems they were legally purchased, as he had no criminal or mental history.

One thing you're not getting is there is the NCIC (National Crime Information Computer) and if you have a criminal history, you either have a record in it, or you don't. There's no "more thorough background check" you can do. That's what every background check system uses. It's instantaneous.

The Colorado shooter purchased his guns over a period of a year. Something tells me he would have jumped through whatever hoops you threw in front of him, and without a criminal or mental health record, he would have cleared any background check.

The only person you might have deterred would be the concealed carry permit holder who shot the Colorado shooter dead.