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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