Weapons of war do not belong here

Opinion

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Anan Abu-Taleb

Instances where four or more people are shot are categorized as mass shootings. Since Jan. 1, of this year, there have been 255 in this country. That is more than one per day. In most mass killings, semi-automatic assault weapons are the firearm of choice for shooters as they plan their attacks on innocent people. 

Semi-automatic firearms are designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible. Their bullets are intended to inflict as much damage as quickly as possible. In El Paso last week, the shooting lasted less than 5 minutes; in Dayton, the spree lasted 31 seconds. In total, 31 people were murdered, and 54 people were critically wounded.

These firearms share most of the same characteristics as the weapons used in war, and should be considered and referred to as weapons of war. Shooters use these firearms to commit atrocities in our cities, our streets, our civic centers, our places of worship, our shops, our theaters and our schools. 

Reluctantly, I have watched many of the videos that have surfaced of mass shootings, and all of them remind me of my childhood in Gaza and the war zone that I grew up in. The footage evokes memories I have spent the majority of my life trying to forget and disown. I see confusion, panic, and fear. I see powerless, innocent people suddenly come under fire, gunned down and murdered. I see people screaming, running for their lives, taking shelter under a table or a fixture they know won't protect them, praying for help they know won't come quickly enough.

I see the aftermath of these mass shootings: victims' bodies with holes punched through them. I see bodies that, moments ago, were perfectly able, transformed into still corpses lying dead in pools of blood. I see witnesses, first responders, and survivors; I also see the faces of the loved ones sitting at home that day — the parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and partners whose lives were also destroyed with those firearms. I know that, like me, their lives will never be the same. They will never un-live this experience. They will never forget. How could you? 

In some lawless parts of the world, for people to protect themselves, their tribes and their territories, it might be necessary for people to own weapons of war. That is not the case here in the United States of America. Here, in the greatest country on Earth, a country of laws and civility, no one needs weapons of war to protect themselves, their family or their assets. No one should fear that they or their loved ones might be a victim of a mass shooting when they close the door and leave for the day. America is not a war zone, and weapons of war do not belong here.

For our safety and the safety of others, we submit, without question or even much thought in fact, often with grace, understanding, and gratitude, to being searched and scanned before we board a plane. While the search itself is inconvenient and conflicts with how we, as Americans, value our freedom and liberty, gun advocates and gun opponents, gun owners and those who disown guns, all submit to being searched and scanned because all of us saw what happened on September 11th. 

All of us saw a tragedy. All of us saw the death and destruction. All of us have accepted that times have changed and that we must change with them — that for the safety of ourselves and of all others we had to adopt a new mindset, change our laws, and follow a new process. 

There is nothing different about semi-automatic and automatic firearms. For our safety and the safety of all others, these weapons of war should be banned unilaterally from our streets and cities. We can and must come to a consensus to adopt common-sense gun laws while protecting the rights of law-abiding and responsible gun owners; we can and must come to a consensus to protect the Second Amendment while also protecting the people the amendment serves in the first place. 

The American people don't exist to protect outdated laws. Our laws exist to protect the American people. They exist so we can prosper and live together in peace and without fear. And when these laws fail to protect us, it is time to change the laws. 

Anan Abu-Taleb is the mayor of the village of Oak Park.

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William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 16th, 2019 4:07 PM

And the discussion needs to go far beyond how the DOJ phrases it. It's correct to say that there are problems with our courts. In significant part because we keep underfunding them, as we do so many aspects of government. Its also accurate to say that those DOJ stats lump all sorts of weapons violations together. It needs a lot of clarification before it means anything. What's utter b.s. is the contention that you, Ray, and others make, that enforcing the current laws more sternly will solve the problem of some deranged SOB from being capable of shooting 26 PEOPLE in just 30 FREAKING SECONDS. Get real.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: August 16th, 2019 2:32 PM

300% is the way the DOJ stated the statistic. For simplicity, take the second worst court in our country and your odds are 3 times better of a plea down to misdemeanor, for a weapons felony, at 26th and California. My basic question remains unanswered! How will any new law be workable if our courts refuse to take a tough, no nonsense stand? Even Chicago Police superintendent Eddy Johnson has the same complaint. The perp is out on $100 bail before the police officers have completed the paperwork.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 14th, 2019 7:33 PM

Once again people like Ray Simpson use sweeping general statements that are devoid of any specifics. "300% more" is meaningless without a number it refers to. And lowering felonies to misdemeanors is totally appropriate when the offense is not violent. There is a huge difference between some punk who gets caught with a cheap 9 mm hand gun because he's fearful for his life in Austin, and a POS who buys a semi-automatic assault rifle and a 100 round cylinder with the intent to harm innocent people. Simpson likes to denigrate other people's knowledge of the issues, but his own grasp of the issues is demonstrably shallow and self-serving of his narrow world view. Don't believe him.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: August 14th, 2019 1:16 PM

Here we have an example of our general populations ignorance of the legal process! Having a law that is ignored by the court system is no better than NO law at all! The DOJ reports that Cook County courts reduce gun felonies to simple misdemeanors 300% more than any other system in the country. We could move all weapons felonies to the Dirksen Center and see results that can be measured. BTW I understand that Oak Park still has an assault weapons ban on the books. Their problem is that they are unable to find a legal definition of "Assault Weapon" Looking Bad isn't any kind of legal standard.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 14th, 2019 12:27 PM

Is 31 innocent people killed and numerous others badly wounded in just over 24 hours while shopping at a Walmart or drinking at a sports bar a "war zone" to you, Joe?

Donna Doerr  

Posted: August 14th, 2019 11:22 AM

"What IF ONE DAY the US becomes a war zone"? Do you really want to live your life as a "WHAT IF"?!? No, semiautomatic rifles are NOT necessary to secure "liberty". By whom? YOU? Where is MY guarantee to live my life free from FEAR? GEEZ, WTF.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: August 13th, 2019 8:01 PM

If "22,000 laws nationally" still allows dozens of people to be killed and wounded within minutes, then we need 22,001 national laws; to ban assault weapons, and authorize law enforcement to seize such weapons.

Joseph Abraham Collins from Oak Park  

Posted: August 13th, 2019 8:01 PM

What if one day the United States becomes a war zone? It had become one twice in the past and it will happen again. Semiautomatic rifles are necessary to secure liberty.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: August 13th, 2019 7:54 PM

We are not lacking enough laws! Instead of 22,000 laws nationally how about a million laws? Then you take a anti-social thug into court and the progressive liberal judge reduces a weapons felony charge to a simple misdemeanor with "Time served" The judges docket is cleared and we don't need a jury trial and sending this slug away for decades. Project Exile works Wikipedia explains the program = = ="Project Exile is a federal program started in Richmond, Virginia in 1997. Project Exile shifted the prosecution of illegal technical gun possession offenses to federal court, where they carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, rather than in state court. Note that federal law (18 U.S. Code 922(g) & 924) provides for a penalty of ten years in federal prison for being a "prohibited person", i.e., a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, as well as for falsifying information in order to obtain one, or furnishing a gun to a convicted felon. " The gun, no matter what it LOOKS like doesn't commit the crime. All of the progressive solutions to gun violence are never conceived from a full understanding of the problem. It is just easier to point a finger at those who do obey the rules and ignore the societal problems that has lost an entire generation of young people.

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