Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mayhem In Omaha: No Doubt It's The Shooter, Not The Gun, To Blame

Or something like that, which inevitably will be the right-wing gun fanatics' copping-out denial in the wake of the Omaha massacre.

We in the US of A have these nuts going ballistic, literally, a heckuva lot more frequently than anywhere else on earth, because in America, you can get your hands on heavy-duty firepower quicker and cheaper than anywhere else on the planet.

So when a deranged person goes off the medication, or otherwise breaks completely, the means of mass murder is much more available.

Don't talk to me about baseball bats, or steak knives. That's not what happens.

The killer does his (yes, pretty much always "his") greater damage - - whether in the high school hallway, on playgrounds, in restaurants, on the highway, or on a college classroom - - because the gun is available.

Those poor people in Nebraska. Out Christmas shopping, and gunned down.

Just ridiculous.

I note in updates from the Omaha World Herald that the killer used an SKS rifle.

The SKS is a military weapon that is often called an assault rifle, though because it's not manufactured to fire selectively in single or automatic bursts, it's just a plain old vicious, terribly deadly, non-assault rifle.

A carbine. To the general public, it's an assault rifle because it's military and devastating, and to the dead Nebraskans, it's of no consequence.


There are many SKS variants, having metastasized from the Soviet Union to China and throughout other former Eastern bloc countries, as a cheap, durable deadly, mass-produced and exportable military weapon - - a staple of the world arms trade.

Not with the ugly cachet of the true assault rifle, like an AK-47, but available from Africa to southeastern Wisconsin, aina!

When I was a reporter for the old Milwaukee Journal, I remember covering a gun show in Elkhorn, where a dealer had three tables filled with new Chinese SKS rifles, with polished blond-wood stocks, fresh from wooden shipping containers.

$200 a pop.

Some people swear by them as hunting rifles.

Chai Vang, the Hmong hunter from Minnesota who killed six hunters in northern Wisconsin, used an SKS.

In the hands of a deranged citizen, whether during the deer hunting or Christmas shopping season, an SKS becomes the killing machine that it was intended to be.

We make it far too easy for people to own something on the order of an SKS. Is that what the 2nd amendment was really designed to guarantee:

That a 19-year-old kid could take one over to the mall and hunt people to go out in his blaze of glory.


Competitive shooter said...

Well as one of those fanatic gun nuts you described I actually have to pat you on the back and say your description is actually the most accurate and fair that I have seen. Many news organizations are sensationalizing that it is a Semi Automatic Assault Rifle. So kudos for you for actually describing it accurately. This gun looks nothing like what most Americans think of when they think of an assault rifle. The gun only accepts 10 rounds at time, unless crudely modified "which I might note takes away from its reliability" SKSs are guns that were invented in the 1940s if I remember right. Very crude by today’s standards. But as we have seen today still effective. They are mildly deceiving with the wood stock, lack of a pistol grip, flash hider, and other such modern accoutrements. These guns are slow to load and heavy to carry. SKSs are not going to be the next craze in the world of crime they are considered obsolete. Honestly they are ancient technology; the same amount of damage could have been done with today’s shotguns that you can buy at Wal-Mart or any other sporting retailer. The gun is not the story here. Most hunting rifles are more accurate as well as being more powerful than this gun.

Anonymous said...

The SKS has to be one of the most popular firearms at WI gun shows. And if ever you wanted to find a reason to make sure crazies don't buy guns, visit one of these gun (and Nazi memorabilia) shows. You'd push for background checks faster than a speeding, um... bullet. So was the gun show loophole ever closed?

Also I'm keeping my fingers crossed about how the Supreme Court rules on DC's handgun ban. First Court ruling on 2nd Amendment since 1930s. Cities need to be able to control gun ownership to fight crime.

More importantly, my heart goes out to Omaha.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, most news articles are now saying the gun was an [semi-automatic] AK-47. Yes, it's a similar weapon, but I believe it's distinct enough to merit accurate reporting.

Also, this shooting was apparently yet another mass-murder to take place in a "gun-free" zone.,2933,315563,00.html

James Rowen said...

I agree about the need for accurate reporting, and frankly, I'm not ready to post a correction. The New York Times on Dec. 6th quotes the Omaha police chief describing the gun as "an AK-47-style seimi-automatic rifle,"...(,) perhaps that is his way of describing the SKS without defining it.

We'll see. Thanks for the note.

James Rowen said...

Well, you appear to be correct. The Omaha World Herald says the police chief initially mis-identifed the gun as an SKS rifle, but in fact it was an AK-47.

So the SKS is cleared. Why he had access to an AK-47, since it's a pure military weapon, makes no sense to me.

Competitive shooter said...

The AK47s here in America are not a military rifle, we have been importing them by the 100s of thousands since the sixties they are not a machine gun but a civilian legal version of the military rifle I hope that clears up some confusion for you. They don’t do anything better than any other rifle if anything they are less accurate because of the crude sights as opposed to most rifles. I have several, their greatest claim to fame is their rugged reliability. They were invented in the 40s by Mikial Kalashnikov. I probably butchered that name. They are great under 200 yards over that not that accurate. I have seen people shoot them farther but not with great success. Much to the surprise of the anti gun these kinds of rifles the media described “assault rifles” make up less than one percent of all the rifles used in crimes. The only reason you hear about them is because they make better news than revolvers and other less evil looking firearms. If you would like to check that statistic go to the Bureau of Justice and Statistics hosted by the US gov. It will also show you that more people every year are bludgeoned to death, knifed, and other sorted murder techniques than killed by firearms. But that doesn’t make as good a news story. Neither do the 150,000 plus people that die at the hands of doctors every year because of incorrect prescriptions and drug conflictions do to human error. That’s a greater threat than firearms, but again people don’t get emotionally involved in that news story the way they would with a firearms news story. Pretty bad when you have a greater chance of dying at the doctor than going to a shooting event or walking in the worst neighborhood of your city.