The terrorist attack on the Paris headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo is shocking on many levels, but one thing was not surprising. The attack was carried out with assault weapons – AK-47s, to be precise. The kind of guns designed for one purpose and one purpose only. Not to shoot a wild animal or protect your family but to kill a lot of people indiscriminately and in a few split-second gun bursts. To massacre people.
The mass murderers in Paris killed 12 people – journalists, several well-known cartoonists, and the editor. According to one eyewitness report, one of the gunmen shouted “We don’t kill women” several times. But a woman was killed, nonetheless. If that doesn’t prove that even the intent not to kill indiscriminately with these types of guns isn’t enough to prevent indiscriminate killing, what does?
Gun-control advocates understandably focus on horrific mass murders in the United States – in Colorado, Columbine High School and the movie theater massacre in Aurora; in Connecticut, the Newtown Sandy Hook School massacre, among others. But it’s not only in the United States that these combat weapons – that is, arms developed for use on the battlefield – are being used against innocent, defenseless civilians.
The school massacre in Peshawar, Pakistan, last December, for example, was carried out not by a single suicide bomber but by gunmen armed with automatic weapons who stormed into the building when school was in session and began spraying the place with bullets. When the guns fell silent 132 children and 13 adults were dead.
In fairness, NRA members are not terrorists. The NRA is not responsible for the acts of homicidal maniacs. There’s some truth in the assertion that guns don’t kill people. Clubs, knives, and arsenic will do the job.
But here’s the point that the NRA and all the other self-absolving, gun-crazy pseudo-patriots among us can’t deny: People with knives or handguns can only kill one person at a time – the killer nearly always intends to kill the victim. It’s still violence, still horrifying, still criminal, but it’s limited in scope and the limitation is in the nature of the weapon, not nature of the human.
And here’s another point: One child (or adult) killed senselessly is tragic and one too many, but two is twice as bad. Ten is ten times as bad. Do the math.
Oh, and one other thing: Shame on you, terrorists. And shame on you too, NRA. Shame on all of you. Shame, shame, shame.