From the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 to the more recent attacks in Beirut, Bamako, and even Paris, assault weapons are an increasingly prevalent tactic used to take large facilities and groups of people hostage for relatively low cost. Bombs, although still used in many places including Paris and Tunis recently, require more expertise to put together, and the raw materials are harder to get access to now that international regulation has tightened. But particularly in North Africa, the Middle East and even in Europe, getting one’s hands on assault weapons is still far too easy.
Unfortunately in many ways it’s easier to get access to, hide, and then unexpectedly use assault weapons, whether for the purposes of jihad, or even, as homicide rates in the US show, for shooting sprees for other reasons, then to down a plane or spread a deadly disease. Perhaps some of the budget for the Department of Homeland Security should move from beefing up TSA to regulating assault weapons?