The Guardian August 25, 1999


Hate and assault weapons equal more violence

by Evelina Alarcon

The city of Los Angeles has been shaken to its core by the tragic shooting 
at the North Valley Jewish Community Centre in Los Angeles' San Fernando 
Valley on August 10. White supremacist Buford Furrow opened fire with a 
semi-automatic weapon, wounding a teenager, three children — one 
critically — and a 68-year-old receptionist.

An hour later, police believe, Furrow shot and killed a postal worker. The 
postman had just delivered mail to a home and was returning to his truck 
when he was shot several times. He was found dead in a driveway.

About two dozen children were inside the Centre when the gunman burst in 
and began spraying the lobby with bullets. The toll could have been higher. 
About 250 children were at the centre but many were outside playing when 
the gunman opened fire.

While SWAT teams were swarming around the community centre and news and 
police helicopters buzzed overhead, about 20 small children were led from 
the building and taken to a Jewish temple nearby.

Parents rushed to the centre and jammed against police lines trying to find 
out if their children were all right. Some parents wept and hugged one 
another, waiting while authorities made sure of everyone's identity.

The sight of wide-eyed preschoolers walking hand-in-hand with police 
officers and firemen brought tears to many. The call for gun control is 
heard throughout the city.

"We ask, again: Will it take the shooting of innocents in every 
congressional district before national lawmakers shake themselves loose 
from the death grip of the gun lobby?", the Los Angeles Times 
demanded in a stinging editorial.

"Once again, we can predict that the gun lobby will claim that one crazed 
man, not a gun, was responsible for what happened in the Valley —but one 
man with a knife could not have mowed down four children and an adult 
within seconds", the Times editorial said.

Jeff Rouss, executive vice-president of the Jewish Community Centres of 
Greater Los Angeles, stood at the scene in anguish as he pleaded, "We must 
do something about guns. We must stop this."

Anti-Semitism is the ugly motive for the attack. Furrow told authorities, 
upon his surrender in Las Vegas the following day, that he committed these 
acts as a "wake-up call to America to kill Jews".

State Senator Richard Alarcon, who represents the San Fernando Valley, told 
the press that he and the Latino Caucus of the state legislature had been 
in the middle of touring an exhibit about the Holocaust at the Museum of 
Tolerance in Los Angeles when the shocking news of the shootings was 
reported to them.

"We in government are all compelled to open up the debate once again about 
access to weapons", Alarcon said, "but we also must address the root of the 
problem which is bigotry and hate."

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which maintains a database of white 
supremacists, has information that Furrow belonged to Aryan Nations in 
1995. Mark Potok of the Alabama-based centre told the press his group has a 
picture of Furrow in a Nazi outfit.

Today, there are 192 million privately owned firearms in the US according 
to the Washington-based Centre to Prevent Handgun Violence. Nearly two 
million of them are so-called military style assault weapons similar to the 
one Furrow used.

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People's Weekly World

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