PSR/Sacramento Responds to November 13, 2015 Paris Terrorist Attacks - Calls for Ban on Rapid Fire Semi-automatic Firearms
Sacramento, CA--The Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility is saddened and outraged by the despicable terrorist attacks which killed more than 120 people and wounded at least 200 more yesterday evening in Paris, France. We extend our most heartfelt sympathy to the surviving victims and to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured in the attacks. We also pledge our support to the people of France to work collectively toward constructive solutions to stopping terrorism.
All of the facts concerning the perpetrators of the Paris terrorist attacks are not currently known, but it has been reported by multiple sources that the attacks were committed by a small group of men armed with semi-automatic rifles and explosives, and that most deaths and injuries were caused by gunshot wounds. In 2006, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan issued the following statement regarding "small arms," which include semi-automatic rifles and hanguns:
“The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems – and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction’”.
The terrorist attacks in Paris yesterday demonstrate the truth of the Secretary General's statement and the horrific destructive power of a small group of people armed with rapid fire semi-automatic weapons. It hasn't yet been revealed where the terrorists obtained their weapons, but in France, semi-automatic rifles can be legally purchased with a license. In the United States, semi-automatic rifles can be readily purchased in most states without a license and without any background check from private sources other than federally licensed firearm dealers. It's estimated that there are at least 300 million firearms in circulation in the USA, many of them rapid fire semi-automatic rifles and handguns.
It is PSR/Sacramento's position that there is no legitimate civilian use for rapid fire semi-automatic firearms, and that they should be banned, with no grandfather clause for weapons already in circulation. At the recent PSR/Sacramento annual dinner on October 25, the keynote speaker was Rebecca Peters, who won the Australian Human Rights Award in 1996 for her key role in achieving a nationwide ban on semi-automatic rifles within just 13 days of the infamous 1996 Port Arthur Massacre. Following the enactment of that ban, the Australian government bought back and destroyed more than a million semi-automatic rifles, and there hasn't been another mass shooting since that time. Speaking on the topic, "Preventing Gun Violence - An International Perspective," Ms. Peters called on Americans to take similar action to curb the epidemic of gun violence in our own country. The Paris terrorist attacks demonstrate the need to ban these weapons of mass destruction worldwide.
The roots of terrorism are complex, and banning rapid fire semi-automatic firearms will not completely stop the problem. If we Americans are seriously concerned about preventing the type of terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris yesterday evening, though, as well as preventing the mass shootings that are committed on a regular basis in the USA by individuals without links to terrorist organizations, we should act swiftly to ban the manufacture, importation, sale, and possession of rapid fire semi-automatic firearms.
For more information regarding PSR/Sacramento's position on firearm injury prevention and the PSR "SMART Security" platform (Sensible Multilateral American Response to Terrorism), please visit the "Our Work" pages of the PSR/Sacramento website at www.sacpsr.org.