The Week (US)

The ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of mass death


Kimberly Wehle

Is an AR-15 capable of killing 50 people in a minute no different from “a Swiss Army knife”? asked Kimberly Wehle. That’s the contention of federal Judge Roger Benitez, a George W. Bush appointee, who last week struck down California’s ban on assault-style weapons as unconstitu­tional by insisting they are “fairly ordinary, popular modern rifles.” Appeals will probably take the case to the Supreme Court, where conservati­ves have been openly calling for a chance to clarify and expand on the court’s 2008 Heller ruling stating that individual­s have the right to own a handgun for self-defense. But in that 5-4 ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia underscore­d that the Second Amendment does not provide a right to own “any weapon whatsoever” and that unusually dangerous weapons could be banned. Assault-style rifles are designed to quickly kill dozens of people, which is why mass shooters have used them to create horrific carnage in Boulder, Orlando, Parkland, Las Vegas, Aurora, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Sutherland Springs, and the Tree of Life synagogue. In his ruling, Benitez said these weapons have been used in “only 22 percent” of mass shootings. “For some of us, that’s 22 percent too many.”

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