Machine Gun Cause for Worry

The picture above is of a .30-caliber machine gun, the kind you see in the movies mowing people down by the dozens. It was seized Monday by Wheeling police in the process of making a drug arrest at a Pierce Street home.

Whether the weapon is fully functional was unknown at this writing. Wheeling police are continuing their investigation.

But if the gun is complete and capable of automatic fire, it can pump out 400-600 bullets a minute. Squeezing the trigger for just one second could send 10 bullets whizzing through the air.

Law enforcement officers and deputies frequently find guns, often possessed illegally, when they are arresting people for drug offenses. Several other firearms were found at the Pierce Street residence, where police say they also discovered 83 marijuana plants. A 52-year-old man was arrested.

Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state police troopers and federal agents are well aware that drug arrests can be hazardous. Law enforcement personnel have been wounded badly, sometimes killed, in such raids.

Gun control advocates often speak of semi-automatic “assault rifles” as military equipment, useful only for shooting human beings. That is hyperbole open to valid criticism.

But what Wheeling police found Monday is different. It really is a military weapon designed for use in combat. Functioning machine guns are used to bring down aircraft, damage vehicles — and kill people rapidly and in great numbers.

The fact such a gun was found in Wheeling during a drug arrest — whether it is fully operable or merely a “dummy” — should be of great concern. It may represent a fearsome escalation in the battle against illegal drugs.

That cannot — repeat, cannot — be tolerated. It would amount to making the struggle against substance abuse a real war.


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