Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says that if his family were victims of disasters like Hurricane Katrina then they would need to have military-style AR-15 assault rifles to protect themselves against “armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods.”
During a hearing Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, the South Carolina Republican pressed Attorney General Eric Holder about his support for a proposed assault weapons ban.
“Can you imagine a circumstance where an AR-15 would be a better defense tool than, say, a double-barrel shotgun?” Graham asked. “Let me give you an example, that you have an lawless environment, where you have an natural disaster or some catastrophic event — and those things unfortunately do happen, and law and order breaks down because the police can’t travel, there’s no communication. And there are armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods. Can you imagine a situation where your home happens to be in the crosshairs of this group that a better self-defense weapon may be a semiautomatic AR-15 vs. a double-barrel shotgun?”
Holder pointed out that the senator was “dealing with a hypothetical in a world that doesn’t exist.”
“I’m afraid that world does exist,” Graham insisted. “It existed in New Orleans, to some extent up in Long Island [after Hurricane Sandy], it could exist tomorrow if there’s a cyber attack against country and the power grid goes down and the dams are released and chemical plants are — discharges.”
“I don’t think that New Orleans would have been better served having people with AR-15 in a post-Katrina environment,” Holder replied.
“What I’m saying is if my family was in the crosshairs of gangs that were roaming around neighborhoods in New Orleans or or any other location, the deterrent effect of an AR-15 to protect my family, I think, is greater than a double-barrel shotgun.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there were reports of armed vigilantes with assault weapons shooting African-Americans.
“Facing an influx of refugees, the residents of Algiers Point could have pulled together food, water and medical supplies for the flood victims,” ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson wrote in 2008. “Instead, a group of white residents, convinced that crime would arrive with the human exodus, sought to seal off the area, blocking the roads in and out of the neighborhood by dragging lumber and downed trees into the streets. They stockpiled handguns, assault rifles, shotguns and at least one Uzi and began patrolling the streets in pickup trucks and SUVs. The newly formed militia, a loose band of about 15 to 30 residents, most of them men, all of them white, was looking for thieves, outlaws or, as one member put it, anyone who simply ‘didn’t belong.’”
Thompson found that at least 11 African-American men ended up being shot near the Algiers Point neighborhood by a militia of men who were apparently all white.
Watch this video from C-SPAN, broadcast March 6, 2013.