ShareThis Page
Ralph Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland: Violence, AR-15s & mayhem

| Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, Detective Barbara J. Mattson of the  Connecticut State Police holds a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. (AP Photo)
In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, Detective Barbara J. Mattson of the Connecticut State Police holds a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. (AP Photo)

“Our first responsibility in the midst of violence is to prevent it from destroying us,” said Henri Nouwen (1932-96), Dutch Catholic priest, professor, theologian and writer.

That advice was especially relevant in America on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when 19 Islamic extremists associated with al-Qaida hijacked four planes with a total of 232 passengers onboard and carried out suicide attacks by crashing the planes into the World Trade Center's twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in rural Shanksville, killing 2,996 and injuring 6,000 in all.

Nouwen's counsel is applicable today regarding the stashes of destructive weapons that can be unleashed with little more than the trouble-free flip of a switch in Pyongyang or Washington, and relevant in light of the mass shooting with an AR-15 rifle killing 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., allegedly by Nikolas Cruz, 19.

A semi-automatic weapon designed for the military, the AR-15 is seen regularly in other mass shootings, including the 2016 shooting in Orlando, Fla., at gay nightclub Pulse, in which American-born Omar Mateen, 19, killed 49 people and wounded at least 53.

About 20 minutes into his shooting attack, reported CNN, “Mateen called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS.”

Parkland was the deadliest school shooting since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which Adam Lanza shot and killed six faculty and staff members, all women, and 20 first-graders, ages 6 and 7. Lanza, 20, used a .223-caliber Remington Bushmaster AR-15 to rapidly kill 27 people — he also shot his mother before he left their house to drive to the school.

Lanza's AR-15 fired 154 bullets in five minutes at the school, a shooting performance sufficiently efficient and quick to accomplish the planned slaughter and also kill himself before first responders could intrude and disrupt the carnage.

“The worst I've seen,” said H. Carver II, M.D., Connecticut chief medical examiner, regarding the autopsies of Lanza's victims.

Carver said each small first-grade body had been pumped with between three and 11 bullets by Lanza's semi-automatic rifle. Some of the victims, he said, had gunshot wounds in their heads, torsos and extremities, some inflicted from close range.

In November, attorney Josh Koskoff, representing some of the Sandy Hook victims' families seeking to hold Remington liable, argued before Connecticut's highest court that Lanza epitomized the buyers wooed and prompted by the advertising campaign mounted for the Bushmaster AR-15.

Lanza heard the message, said Koskoff: “He idolized the military and wanted to be an Army Ranger and Remington marketed the AR-15 as the weapon used by the Army Rangers.”

The rifle was the must-have weapon for any fight, said the ads, boasting that opponents were “single-handedly outnumbered” by an owner of an AR-15. The reward for carrying this particularly lethal weapon: “Consider your man card reissued.”

Ralph R. Reiland is associate professor of economics emeritus at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (rrreiland@aol.com).

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me