Veteran Baton Rouge lawyer Lewis Unglesby described assault weapons as killing machines Monday and said unspeakable tragedies such as the one that occurred in December at an elementary school in Connecticut will continue until the weapons are banned.
Unglesby noted that law enforcement personnel arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., just 200 seconds after the principal called police to report the alleged killer’s presence outside the school yet the gunman still was able to shoot open a locked door and kill 20 first-graders and six teachers on Dec. 14.
“You cannot do that with conventional weapons,” Unglesby told a Baton Rouge Press Club luncheon audience in downtown Baton Rouge.
A semi-automatic weapon fires a bullet each time the trigger is pulled with no need to manually move the next round into the firing chamber. A fully automatic weapon keeps firing bullets as long as the trigger is pulled.
Unglesby characterized both types of weapons as “extremely dangerous products” and said chiefs of police have repeatedly stated that the time it takes to reload a weapon makes all the difference to police and potential shooting victims.
“The danger of these guns is so obvious and evident,” he said.
Unglesby said an automatic weapon can fire 30 bullets in two seconds, and a semi-automatic weapon can fire 30 rounds in less than five seconds.
“Where do any of us live that we have to shoot 30 bullets in five seconds?” he asked.
Unglesby, a gun owner and hunter who said he twice has had a gun put to his head, said assault weapons are good for one thing and one thing only — and the person holding one doesn’t even have to aim.
“With one of these, I could kill all of you with my eyes closed,” he said. “That’s all they’re used for — killing people. Until we use this harsh language, we will continue to face these tragedies.”
“If enough states say we don’t want these weapons, you won’t have them,” Unglesby added, saying he just wants to “get rid of the carnage.”
Unglesby said he doesn’t believe the answer lies in background checks on gun sales. He used, as a hypothetical, a man named Joe who owns an AK-47 assault weapon and who snaps after losing his wife to his best friend, losing his job, and then finding out his 15-year-old daughter is pregnant — all in the span of about a week.
“Where’s your background check going to catch Joe?” he asked.
Unglesby said a ban on assault weapons would limit a person’s “dangerousness.”
“There isn’t a second side to this,” he argued. “To be for these weapons is stupid. If you think you need this type of gun, something’s wrong with you.”
President Barack Obama recently endorsed renewing a ban on assault weapons. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but it expired a decade later.
Unglesby noted that the National Rifle Association, whose president said last month he doesn’t believe Congress will pass a new ban on assault weapons, made $18 million in direct political contributions in 2012. Unglesby labeled those contributions as “blood money.”