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PLATFORM : ‘Stand Up to This Tyranny’ of Guns

Rabbi GARY GREENEBAUM is Western regional director of the American Jewish Committee and president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. He had this comment on the murder of LAPD rookie Christy Lynne Hamilton on Tuesday.

A police officer, shot dead in the line of duty. She didn’t have a chance, even though she did everything right. She was killed by a gun that should not have been in anyone’s home.

Patrol Officer Christy Hamilton, answering a 911 call in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood of Northridge, stepped from her patrol car. She was told by two women who had run from a house that a 17-year-old inside had shot his father. Hamilton and other officers, wearing bulletproof vests, followed safety procedures. She crouched behind the open front door of her car for protection.

Christopher Golly, 17, shot her in the chest with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle. The shot entered her body at the edge of the armhole of her bulletproof vest. She was acting properly and wearing body armor, yet she was shot dead. The young man then returned to the house and shot himself.

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We have here a great human tragedy. We also have here a graphic example of a simple fact: Our police officers today are outgunned on the streets of our city.

Patrol officers don’t carry assault rifles. These are guns developed for war, but which now sit in people’s closets or under their beds or on proud display in glass cabinets. By the thousands.

Can there actually be doubt in any person’s mind about whether a high-powered gun like this should be available to average citizens? Can the National Rifle Assn. defend the laws that allow a gun such as this to be legally held in the home?

The morning after Officer Hamilton was killed, I met with a group of 30 or so officers, mostly LAPD lieutenants and captains. A captain finally said to me, “Commissioner, we need you to say something. There needs to be some real form of gun control. No one is safe anymore. Officers cannot do their jobs. You represent law enforcement in this city. Something needs to come from you. Something needs to be done.”

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Something needs to be said. Something needs to be done. For all of the officers killed in the line of duty, for every victim of a drive-by shooting, every car-jacking. For the next victim of a senseless shooting. For you or for me.

When the police tell us they are outgunned by the criminals and the drug-crazed, then it must follow that our whole society is outgunned, held hostage by those who would kill any one of us for no particular reason. Held hostage, too, by the National Rifle Assn., gun manufacturers and gun dealers, all of whom thrive at the expense of the rest of us. They are holding a gun to each of our heads.

We must rise up and overwhelm them together, stand up to this tyranny before it’s too late.


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