Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pushed back against efforts to limit the availability of assault weapons during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday by echoing the paranoia of the National Rifle Association and insisting that Americans would need access to AR-15s to protect themselves from “roaming gangs” during natural disasters.
Speaking to Attorney General Eric Holder, Graham argued that an AR-15 would have been “a better defense tool” than “a double-barrel shotgun” in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy:
GRAHAM: Let me give an example. That you have a lawless environment where you have a 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 envision a situation where if your home happens to be in the cross-hairs of this group that a better self-defense weapon may be a semiautomatic AR-15 versus a double-barrel shotgun?
HOLDER: I think we’re dealing there with a hypothetical in a world…
GRAHAM: Well, I’m afraid that world does exist. I think it existed in New Orleans, to some exist in Long Island, it could exist tomorrow if there’s a cyber attack against the country and the power grid goes down and the dams are released and chemical plants are discharges. [...] What I’m saying is if my family was in the cross-hairs of gangs that were roaming around New Orleans or any other location, that the turn effect of an AR-15 to protect my family is better than a double-barrel shotgun but the Vice President and I have a disagreement on that.
Holder pointed out that it’s unlikely that “New Orleans would have been better served with people with AR-15s in a post Katrina environment,” which was marked by chaos, violence and looting.