Here's an interesting read. From NRA-ILA: After mentions of MS-13 here on CC, I thought this deserved mention:
Machetes cutting a wider swath of fear in U.S. communities
By LISA HOFFMAN
Scripps Howard News Service
They have the heft of an ax, a blade nearly as long as a sword, and the intimidation power to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
Cheap and easily bought, machetes in America have commonly been reserved for underbrush and sugar-cane cutting. But now, in a spreading trend that so far has drawn little national attention, criminals are using machetes as weapons, striking fear in cities and towns across the country.
Witness these recent incidents:
In the heartland Indiana city of Evansville in February, a robber pulled a machete on a convenience-store cashier, who put up no fight when the bad guy demanded the cash box.
In Corpus Christi, Texas, a 22-year-old gang member pleaded guilty in January to the machete slaying of an 82-year-old man in a drug-addled attack.
And in Greenville, N.J., during a Jan. 20 argument over a borrowed drill, a suspect known as "Shy" slashed an apartment resident so severely with a machete that the victim's shinbone broke.
Although machete-related crimes are occurring from Florida to Washington state and Maine to California, they have only recently begun to reach the radar screens of law-enforcement and government officials nationwide. No official count of the incidence of such crimes exists.
While they are more common in places with sizable Latin American and Caribbean immigrant populations, machete offenses also are cropping up elsewhere.
In February alone, crimes involving machetes were reported in San Jose, Calif.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Republic, Wash.; Tampa, Fla.; and Mount Pleasant, Mich. While some of the suspects and victims in those cases had Hispanic or "Island" surnames, others did not.
Abetting the spread is the wide availability and low cost of the tool. A machete with a 21-inch-long blade can be bought at most home-improvement stores for $10, sometimes less.
One jurisdiction that is wrestling with machete problem is Fairfax County, Va., a sprawling suburb of Washington. Police there have tallied more than 110 machete cases in recent years. Most were linked to gangs, particularly the notorious and fast-expanding Latino gang Mara Salvatrucha, whose members have been identified in more than two-dozen states.
Also known as MS-13, the gang has adopted machetes as the weapon of choice, at least partly because of the fear the blades engender with their implied threat of gruesome wounds or even death.
"In the last 10 years, we've seen an increasing number of horrific attacks with machetes," Fairfax County Police Maj. Frank Wernlein told a state legislative committee last month.
One of the worst was the 2005 assault on a 24-year-old man who was jumped by several MS-13 members when leaving a movie theater. An attacker, who was since convicted, sliced off three of the victim's fingers.
"They're vicious attacks that cause a great deal of fear," said Virginia House of Delegates member Vivian Watts, one of the few legislators in the country to push for new laws to combat machete-related crime.
Watts, who is sponsoring a bill to make it unlawful to brandish a machete with the intent to intimidate, said the machete menace quickly took root in her area, and she warned that the same could happen in other parts of the country.
"In a very short period of time, the use of machetes has become a very serious problem," she said this week.
That was the case as well in the Boston area, where a rise in gang violence involving machetes occurred in the past several years. The surrounding towns of Revere, Everett, Lynn and Chelsea have banned machetes, and there is now a bill before the Massachusetts Senate that would prohibit the carrying, sale and manufacture of the tool-turned-weapon.
Law-enforcement experts say that localities with large numbers of immigrants from Latin and Caribbean countries _ where machetes are ubiquitous and commonly imbued with symbolism _ are likely to witness more machete-related offenses.
Bill Johnson, a former prosecutor in Miami in the late 1980s, said that was the case in that city after a mass influx of Haitians occurred when he was there. "My observation was that it was a cultural thing," said Johnson, now executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.
Alex del Carmen, a criminology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, agreed. Long a part of daily life in Latin America, where they are considered the tool _ and weapon _ of the poor, machetes became the symbol of the power of the peasantry after their use in revolts against Spanish rule and in the 1959 communist revolution in Cuba.
Del Carmen said that romantic history might also add to the allure of the weapon and its spread. But he said it is the machete's inherent menace that is its greatest draw.
"It's very intimidating, particularly in places where you haven't seen them very much before," del Carmen said.
(Contact Lisa Hoffman at HoffmanL(at)shns.com)