WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Miami-Dade Police Sergeant Jose Somohano was killed with an AK-47 three years to the day after the Federal Assault Weapons ban expired. Today, he will be laid to rest. The death of Sgt. Somohano is in addition to the deaths of 54 other police officers who have been killed by a firearm in the line of duty so far this year. "Sgt. Somohano was killed with a previously outlawed weapon that was made legal by the United States Congress three years ago to the day of his death," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Those who blocked renewal of that should consider the consequences of their actions, and particularly what the Miami Chief of Police has called an 'arms race' between criminals and the police. Our police and the public are paying a terrible price for the easy availability of dangerous weapons." Shawn LaBeet, who was killed by police after a long manhunt, had been stockpiling assault weapons like the AK-47 that was used to shoot Sgt. Somohano, investigators say. That weapon was outlawed under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was allowed to expire on September 13, 2004. Miami police leaders, as well as police officials nationwide, are reporting significant increases in assault weapons shootings and deaths and in assault weapons seizures in criminal investigations. Like the City of Miami's Police Department, many other police departments have begun providing assault rifles to officers in the field or allowing officers to bring their own. According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial, there have been 132 officer fatalities in the U.S. so far this year, with 54 killed by a firearm. In all of last year, 145 officers died in the line of duty, 52 due to firearms. In 2005, 50 officers were killed with firearms. Through Sept 14th of this year police officer deaths exceed the total number of officers killed in the line of duty by a firearm in any of the last six years. The Law Enforcement Memorial reported in July that the first six months of this year were the deadliest first six months for law enforcement since the 1970s. Last week was particularly tragic, as three officers from Odessa, Texas were also killed. Three other Miami-Dade officers were injured in last week's shootout in addition to Sgt. Somohano. More officers are killed with firearms than through any other single cause. According to the most recent FBI report, there has been a steady increase in non-fatal assaults on law enforcement with firearms as well. In 2005, there were 2,145 officers assaulted with a firearm. One hundred sixty-one Federal agents were also accosted with firearms that year. For continuing insight and comment on the gun issue, read Paul Helmke's blog at http://www.bradycampaign.org/blog/. Visit the Brady Campaign website at www.bradycampaign.org or http://www.bradycampaign.org/chapters/california/. As the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, working with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities. Contact: Peter Hamm, 202-898-0792, firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence