Wed, Jul

An Assault Weapon in Civilian Hands is a Massacre in the Making


THE COHEN COLUMN-We condemn without equivocation the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise and three others last week.

Violence of any kind has no place in our democratic political process. It is the way of terrorists. Period.

A few years ago the shoe was on the other side of the aisle, when Democrat Gabby Giffords was shot on January 8, 2011, and Steve Scalise was one of the members of Congress who took to the House floor to condemn the attack against her. Unfortunately, though, nothing changed after her shooting to stem the angry rhetoric and disunity that caused it.

Because the recent shooter in Alexandria was armed with an assault rifle, and only because of that, Rand Paul stated that if there not been armed plain clothes officers there to protect Scalise (due to his leadership position) it would have been a massacre.

The rest of us cannot depend on such random chance.

Each and every assault weapon in civilian hands is a potential massacre in the making, so we renew our call to return to a time when this was not permitted. Let’s Make America safe again. After all, people with guns kill more people than people without guns.

The shoot 'em up crowd argues that if they can't get guns, the bad guys will just kill people using knives or clubs or whatever.

True enough. But when they do, as occurred in England recently, they can't kill nearly as many people nearly as fast. It is the difference between multiple homicides and wholesale slaughter.

Predictably, the NRA will trot out their tired "good guy with a gun" talking point.

Our simple point is that the good guy and gal with guns in the Alexandra case were law enforcement officers, under a chain of command. This is quite different from having freelance solo vigilantes roaming the streets, armed to the teeth, any one of whom might in fact be the Bad Guy.

And who can tell the difference before the bullets start flying?

As for assault weapons in particular, who actually needs such military scale fire power for self-protection? If you are up against someone with an assault weapon, then perhaps. But we note that even in this case, a couple of officers with semi-automatic weapons were able to sufficiently neutralize the shooter and prevent a larger massacre until backup arrived.

We say take all assault weapons off the street, instead of handing them out to every Tom, Dick and the next would-be assassin of first graders.


Assault weapons are an extreme and obscene celebration of murderous violence. They have no place in private civilian hands for any purpose.

At a minimum, if it’s necessary to appease gun collectors, there must be special and restrictive licensing requirements, allowing them on private property only.

And we'll tell you who else condemned the shooting without any hesitation whatsoever: Bernie Sanders.

We're not sure where it started, but someone without any actual factual confirmation, began reporting that the shooter might have volunteered for the Sanders campaign at some point. As the conservative media frequently does, other talking heads immediately started reporting this as conventionally accepted gospel, converting speculation into hard news.

Bernie is always there to speak the righteous and progressive political truth, which is why we continue to stand with him now and forever.

The shooter at the baseball practice in Virginia professed his hatred of Republicans. We do not hate Republicans.

A decade ago I was at a fundraiser where I met Senator George McGovern, always the poster child for liberal causes. I was surprised when he said, “...we need Republicans.” He meant we need balance in government, as in, a balance in “the force.” Obi-Wan and I agree with this.

We want to remove most Republicans from political office (and frankly a number of Democrats as well) because we oppose the policies they embrace. 

We won’t debase our Founders dream to have a democracy for the people under the Constitution no matter what egregious contempt the Republican leadership (as in, Mitch McConnell) displays. (See Article II, Section 2, for example.) We won’t support or resort to violence, no matter what.

We will make change through the ballot, not with a hail of bullets. As always the solution is VOTE!


(Michael N. Cohen is a former board member of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, founding member of the LADWP Neighborhood Council Oversight Committee, founding member of LA Clean Sweep and occasional contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.


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