By Charles T. Fieramusca Jr.
Over the past couple months, I have listened and read with great interest the debate regarding assault weapons and the Second Amendment. Having served as chief of homicide during the deadliest five years in the history of the City of Buffalo, 1991 through 1996 (350 homicides,) I feel compelled to express my views on the subject matter of assault weapons and the Second Amendment.
I will commence by stating I am not anti-Second Amendment. I have come to the conclusion that the only defense we have against bad guys with guns, is good guys with guns. We have the absolute right to protect ourselves against those who would cause harm to ourselves and our innocent loved ones. Try as we may, we are not going to remove the guns from the hands of those who would so callously take the lives of innocent people. Gun buyback programs and other efforts to remove illegal weapons from our streets are totally ineffective. Guns will continue to flow into the hands of bad people who will use them to kill.
My problem lies with assault weapons. Far too many of the homicides we investigated were perpetrated with assault weapons. I saw an 8-year-old girl who was torn apart through a locked wooden door by an assault weapon. I viewed a fifteen-year-old boy whose body was torn apart so badly that the press reported he was struck by a semi-truck. He was not struck by a truck, he was struck by multiple rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle. These are two examples of the wrath that can be inflicted by assault weapons. There were many more.
When campaigning for the office of sheriff of Erie County many years ago, I presented myself to various NRA groups. Upon expressing my opposition to assault weapons, I was immediately booed and shut down from further discussion. I repeat, I am not anti Second Amendment. I support the right for God fearing, descent and lawful persons to carry concealed weapons for the defense of their lives, their homes and their loved ones. But to sit by and see innocent children, men and women slaughtered in our schools at the hands of a maniac with an assault weapon is too tragic to tolerate.
When does it end? When do we say enough is enough? Sure, these crimes could have been committed with a handgun, or even a knife, but not with the intensity and speed that an assault weapon is capable of. We must come to the realization that assault weapons are nothing more than killing machines, created for war time purposes. They have no place in our society or on our streets. Come on NRA, wake up and stop your opposition to removing assault weapons from the hands of demented killers. They serve no purpose for hunting or target shooting, their only function is to kill mass amounts of people.
I stood by this perception as chief of homicide for five years, as a candidate for sheriff, and now as a citizen who is sickened by the deaths I have seen in our schools and on our streets. Let common sense prevail, not the fear of losing our right to bear arms.
Charles T. Fieramusca Jr. is retired chief of homicide for the Buffalo Police Department.