Editoral: Public Enemy No. 1: The AR-15
Unless people demand common-sense restrictions on these especially dangerous guns, the killing will continue.
Lone wolf maniacs have used the military-style assault rifle to commit mass shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Santa Monica and at LAX.
Dec. 14, 2012: A man armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle kills 20 children and six adults in a shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
June 7, 2013: A man armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle kills five people and injures four others in a shooting spree at Santa Monica College.
Nov. 1, 2013: A man armed with a rifle similar to an AR-15 kills a TSA agent and shoots several others in Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport.
Dec. 12, 2015: A man and wife use two AR-15s to kill 14 people and wound 22 others in a San Bernardino office building.
June 12, 2016: A man armed with an AR-15 type rifle kills 49 people and wounds 53 others at a gay club in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. That same day, Santa Monica police find three assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammunition in the vehicle of a 20-year-old man who claimed to be on his way to the L.A. Pride Festival in West Hollywood.
There have been roughly 1,000 mass shootings in the U.S. in the 900 days since Sandy Hook, including two in our own backyard.
Regardless of the killers’ motives, the mass shootings that hit hardest and closest to home involved one or two people inflicting maximum carnage with AR-15 or a similar military-style assault rifle.
The excessive firepower of the AR-15 exceeds any reasonable requirements for self-protection or sport.
The proliferation of this weapon and others like it presents a clear and present danger to the public — especially to young people, as was the case in Sandy Hook, Santa Monica and Orlando.
California already has restrictions on the sale of military assault weapons. But in Florida and other parts of the country — including Indiana, where the man arrested on Sunday in Santa Monica came from — it’s much easier to purchase and wield an assault rifle than it is to get a driver’s license or to vote.
Two weeks before the shooting in Orlando, President Obama lamented after a taping of PBS News Hour in Indiana that the federal government lacks legal authority to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.
“I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun,” Obama said.
That very same week, the Orlando shooter — who had previously been under federal investigation as a possible domestic terrorist — bought himself a high capacity killing machine.
If that doesn’t make you angry, it should.
On Monday night, dozens gathered underneath the Venice Sign at Windward and Pacific avenues for a candlelight vigil in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando shooting. Some of them had gathered there two weeks earlier to launch the inaugural Venice Pride celebration.
Candlelight vigils like this one typically invoke silence to honor the dead. But for some of those who gathered in Venice, the event was about speaking up — both for gay rights and stricter gun laws.
“When it happened I wanted to do something so that I didn’t go to sleep or feel lullabied by the constant news of these [mass shooting] stories,” said Venice resident Michael Brunt, one of the event’s organizers.
“When you’re afraid to hold the hand of the person you love in public and you finally find a place where you can hold that hand in peace, that is ultimately the definition of sanctuary. And so they got us at our home [by targeting a gay club]. And I’m here to stand proudly and to tell them that we’re not afraid to gather,” said Allan Jones, 29, a Venice resident.
“If you don’t go out and be who you are and be with the one that you love, it’s like if you stay indoors then they’ve won. It’s like you’ve already died,” said Mar Vista resident Eden Trevino.
“Tonight, it’s like we’ve got to fight for change. We need better gun control laws,” said Kyle King, a Culver City resident.
“I actually think today that a moment of silence is not the most respectful way to respond. I think the most respectful way to respond to what happened yesterday is loudly and angrily,” said L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin.
We agree. This is no time to be quiet. As we saw after the Sandy Hook massacre, unless people speak up nothing will change.
Now it’s your turn. Write to email@example.com.