After Highland Park parade massacre, Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s lethal attack on assault weapons

For an “evil purpose, a semi-automatic rifle is the perfect weapon, because it is lightweight, portable and easy to load with high-capacity magazines,” Duckworth said in a Senate speech pleading for an assault weapons ban.

SHARE After Highland Park parade massacre, Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s lethal attack on assault weapons
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaking at a Capitol Hill rally Wednesday July 13, 2022, calling for assault weapons to be banned. The event was organized in the wake of the Highland Park July 4 parade massacre.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., speaking at a Capitol Hill rally Wednesday, July 13, 2022, calling for assault weapons to be banned. The event was organized in the wake of the Highland Park July 4 parade massacre.

Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — The assault rifle is a well-designed weapon, said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., in a Senate floor speech Thursday.

Duckworth did go to the Senate floor to praise assault weapons. But this was no product endorsement aimed at everyday consumers.

She was there to plead with Senate Republicans to join in and vote to ban the sale of weapons of war to civilians.

For an “evil purpose, a semi-automatic rifle is the perfect weapon, because it is lightweight, portable and easy to load with high-capacity magazines,” Duckworth said.

She should know, having served 23 years in the military.

On July 4th in Highland Park, a gunman with an assault weapon killed seven people, wounded dozens of others and shattered the lives and sense of well-being of untold others.

One of the things Democrats have to be able to better communicate — even though it seems obvious to me — is why an assault weapon is not the same as a pistol or hunting rifle. There’s no lobbying in Congress for your local gun store to be able to sell a shoulder-fired missile. No one is arguing your Second Amendment right to bear arms takes in being able to fire off rockets from your shoulder.

Which brings me back to the the Highland Park dead — Katherine Goldstein. Jacquelyn Sundheim. Stephen Straus. Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza. Eduardo Uvaldo. Irina and Kevin McCarthy — and Duckworth’s plea to pass a ban on the sale and manufacture of, as she put it, “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for civilian use.”

As she said in her speech, “I recognize a weapon of war when I see one.

“I know why you would need to use them … the power they wield … and what they can do to a human body.

“I understand that the M4, the M16 and their civilian variants, known generically as AR-15 rifles, were designed for the battlefield.

“From their portability, rapid rate of fire, power and accuracy to their effective range, these weapons were designed to rip apart the human body so your enemy can’t get back up and fire back at you on the field of combat.

“These are weapons of the battlefield and have no business being on our streets and in our schools.

“... These AR-15-style rifles fire small caliber ammunition at a velocity that can easily penetrate many kinds of body armor even at a distance — so when an unprotected child is shot with an AR-15 at close range, the results are horrific.

“And as anyone who’s ever carried an M4 into combat understands, the American people should not be misled into thinking that AR-15 rifles are ‘safe’ for our communities or that a ban on fully-automatic machine guns is sufficient to protect our children from the most dangerous weapons of war.

“Mass shooters are hunting mothers in malls, fathers in theaters and children in their schools.

“For that evil purpose, a semi-automatic rifle is the perfect weapon, because it is lightweight, portable and easy to load with high-capacity magazines.”

Said Duckworth, “It couples the speed of automatically chambering the next round after each shot with maximum accuracy — a combination designed to kill as many people as possible, as fast as possible, as efficiently as possible.”

SENATE PASSES RESOLUTION HONORING HIGHLAND PARK VICTIMS, RESPONDERS

The Senate on Thursday paid its condolences to the people who died in the Highland Park shooting, passing a resolution sponsored by Duckworth and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

The measure also paid tribute to the dozens wounded and the first responders, health care workers and counselors who cared and are caring for them, and put in the public record the dozens of suburbs sending teams to Highland Park to respond to the attack and the names of all the hospitals taking in the dead and wounded.

There was also recognition paid to “members of the Highland Park, Highwood, Waukegan and North Chicago communities, along with communities across the entire North Shore, the state of Illinois, the United States, and the world” who “have come together to support the victims of this horrific massacre and their families.”

Be it resolved, the Senate measure said, that the chamber “stands in solidarity with the victims of senseless gun violence in communities across the United States.”

And let me add this: Be it resolved then that the Senate stop letting civilians buy war weapons.

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