‘We’re talking about weapons that are made for war,” said Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee. “An AK-47 is a Russian-made weapon that is made for war. An AR-15, which is an answer to the AK-47 . . . these high-capacity [guns] . . . you can shoot 50 to 60 rounds within a minute. Within a minute you can literally shoot through brick, shoot through steel.”
Speaking at a news conference with Rep. John Conyers and myself, Chief Godbee expressed dismay that there has been no action to revive the assault-weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004 when George W. Bush was president.
In the Aurora, Colo., movie theater slaughter, the number of victims likely would have been much higher — except James Holmes’ assault weapon apparently jammed, limiting his ability to spray the audience with deadly rounds of bullets.
An assault weapon is not useful for hunting game. It isn’t easily available, like a handgun, for self-defense. It is designed for one purpose: war. These are weapons for domestic, homegrown terrorism. Aurora is close to Denver International Airport. A gunman at the end of a runway could shoot bullets through an airplane. Bullets were shot from the street into the back porch of the White House last year.
Leaders calling for a renewed ban are, not surprisingly, those most exposed to them on the streets: America’s police chiefs. Many of them are NRA members, but they know assault weapons put the lives of their officers and citizens at risk.
According to Miami Police Chief John Timoney, assault weapons have become “the weapon of choice among gangs here. . . . The guns keep coming in, their prices are dropping.” In Miami, assault weapons were used in about 4 percent of all homicides in 2004 as the weapons ban expired. Now, Timoney says, the number is about 21 percent.