Monday, March 31, 2008

Assault Weapon Killings Down

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 1:44 PM

 By: Allen Johnson

Police Chief Warren Riley recently revived a call for a ban on assault weapons, and he’s pushing legislation to that end. Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard supports the chief’s proposed ban. No figures are available, but very few of the city’s 42 homicides this year involved AK-47s, Tech-9s or other assault-style weapons. “We see a few, but we’re not seeing them like we were after the storm,” coroner’s Chief Investigator John Gagliano says. Most local homicide victims are killed with .40-caliber or 9-millimeter handguns, which are easier to conceal than most assault-style weapons, Minyard says. Gagliano expressed surprise when recalling a recent murder from a .22-caliber pistol, and Austin Banks, a spokesperson for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, says ATF is seizing a lot of “standard 9-millimeters” from convicted felons in Louisiana. “It’s legal to have a (semi-automatic) assault weapon if you are not a convicted felon,” Banks notes. Criminals obtain the weapons via auto thefts, residential burglaries and illegal “straw purchases” — using relatives and associates with no felony records to buy weapons from legitimate gun dealers, Banks says. 

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