Caring. Effective. Efficient.

Action items for veterans who want to lead on gun control.

I really can't take it anymore. I'm sure many like you feel the same way.

Every time another child with a military weapon ambushes a school full of children, I am overwhelmed with emotions that have no outlet. I can't even process what is happening anymore. "WTF!" is about the only words I can marshal anymore.

I simply don't understand why gun control is so far out of reach for our country. 

Our leaders are telling us, implicitly if not by their inaction, that we have to figure out a way to "take it." This is the "new normal" and we need to deal with it. 

And all we hear after each slaughter of innocent children are the endless and illogical and anachronistic talking points that comprise the gun "debate" in our nation.  

We hear the same thing about gun control after every shooting.

No politics out of respect for the dead. Guns don't kill people, people do. We need more spending on mental health. Good guys with guns are needed to stop bad guys with guns. The Second Amendment is absolute. Thoughts and prayers. 

It's interesting the defenses of gun control we don't hear, by the way.

Nobody ever says: "Freedom isn't free - massacres of elementary schoolchildren are the price of our freedom." 

I wish they would say that, though, because it is the only intellectually honest observation of where our country is now.

Our elected leaders are willing to sacrifice 8-year old children's lives to ensure that 18 year olds have virtually unfettered access to military assault rifles and use them at whatever school they take aim at.  

And that observation cuts right to the heart of the problem: one person's freedom to own a military assault weapon rubs up against my freedom to live life every time another white teenage boy guns down innocent children and families in a school, a church, a hospital, a department store, a restaurant, a cemetery, a playground, a street fair, a bar, a concert........ 

The choices our elected leaders present for removing that friction are black-and-white, zero-sum outcomes: someone has to give.

Your gun. My safety. Can't have both, apparently.

Every school shooting is more evidence that we continue to force your freedom to live life - or your infant child's freedom to live life - to cede ground to someone else's freedom to purchase and load and transport and use a weapon of war. 

But it doesn't need to be that way.

People can have the freedom to own and transport and use a hunting rifle or shotgun, a pistol for self-defense, or a "Brown Bess" flintlock for your militia meetup, at the same time other people can have the freedom to live life from a spray of bullets into classrooms full of 8 year olds.

 

Enter the Veteran.

Not every veteran has seen, firsthand, what happens at both ends of a firearm. But many of us have. We know, all too well, what happens "when the pin hits the shell," as they say. 

And we should start telling people about that. 

When someone gets shot in the movie, they rip a sheet, tie a tourniquet, and hobble into the next scene. 

That's not how it goes down in real life. And I don't think most Americans truly appreciate what that looks like.

But those of us who served know something more important.

We know that as highly trained as we are in the use of various weapons, we are subject to a lot of restrictions and oversight. 

Peace-time/stateside, those weapons are locked down and regularly inventoried. Units and bases are shut down when one turns up missing. 

We regularly have to demonstrate proficiency in their use - their safe use - or we won't be carrying one much longer.

And we must use them responsibly, even in combat. Violations of the rules of engagement will lead to jail-time or discharge. 

In other words, you have to earn the right to carry a firearm in the military. You have to demonstrate proficiency to be able to continue to be trusted with one.

Given our experience with what happens on both ends of the gun, and what it truly takes to proficiently and safely use one, we should be helping our civilian counterparts get a healthier understanding of guns. 

I'm not talking about telling your non-vet buddies how cool it is to own a gun or shoot it at the range. The gun companies and ammo manufacturers have their marketing outfits - they can tell you how cool and phallic and fun their weapons are to shoot. They can sell you the weapon. 

It takes a veteran to understand the dark side of weapons and bullets.  Veterans can lead on the issue of gun control. 

Action Items for Veterans seeking to raise their voice on gun control.

Where to start? Who knows. Somewhere? Anywhere? 

Some veterans are starting to speak up. 

This veteran - also a lawyer - explains that the Second Amendment doesn't mean what you think, and prays that "we never again ignore the screams of children trapped in schools with well-armed psychopaths for fear of offending those who use the Constitution to lie in & promote a lie." 

These Marine veteran turned in his guns.

There are more like us out there, and we do not all sleep with pistols under our pillow.

We do not all believe the Second Amendment is more sacred than the right to live. 

Here are four things I'd like to ask all veterans support.

Call your state and federal legislators, and ask for them to pass laws taking these actions.

None of these actions limit the right to keep and bear arms. 

  1. Universal Background Checks. I've heard all the arguments. A dad doesn't want to pay for a background check to sell a gun to his daughter - he knows she's not a criminal. They are moderately effective.  People will find ways around them. But we know that they stop some guns from getting in the wrong hands. And in my 51 years of living, I have never once heard a story of a person who was wrongly blocked from buying a gun by a background check. This solution is moderately effective and carries zero risk to legitimate gun ownership.  We should be demanding universal background checks for every firearm sale in the US. 
  2. Red Flag laws. These laws provide a process for police to remove firearms from dangerous people. For example, in some states, a conviction for beating your wife or girlfriend could give the police cause to demand you surrender your weapons. Again - red flag laws pose zero risk to legitimate gun ownership. And they are incredibly effective in keeping guns out of the hands of people with "blood on their brain."
  3. Ban Assault Weapons. This one does pose a threat to gun ownership - but not to legitimate gun ownership. I see no legitimate use for any person to own their own assault rifle. It's banned for hunting use in many states, and is a ridiculous choice to hunt with in states where its not. Feel like you need a weapon in case there's a revolution? Join the National Guard. That CAR-15 isn't going to give you an edge against the government soldier with a real automatic rifle, machine guns, etc. And we know that the assault weapons ban under President Clinton was incredibly effective, and would have been exponentially more effective had it been left in place.
  4. Liability Insurance. This is one that I'm sure many of you have never heard. But we should start requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance, in the event their weapon is - right or wrong - used in a murder, assault, or battery.  $1 million per round the weapon fires. So a revolver owner would need a $6million policy. The owner of a Ruger Mini-14 would need a $20million policy if he used the 20-round magazine. This poses zero threat to gun ownership; at least no more threat than a law requiring us to insure a car before we drive it on public roads poses to car ownership. And the benefit to society is huge - the taxpayers are footing the bill for a lot of medical and funeral bills, this would put the burden of paying the bill on the person who pulled the trigger.

It is my hope that veterans will start Taking Point! on the issue of gun control. 

First, by sharing the dark reality of what happens on both sides of the weapon. 

Second, by reminding our fellow Americans that gun ownership is a great responsibility that should be taken seriously. 

Third, by pushing state and federal legislators to pass the above laws. 

Categories: Taking Point! Blog

About the "Taking Point!" Blog

From veterans law, to attorney wellness, and elevating the voices of Black veterans, the law firm of Attig | Curran | Steel, PLLC, is Taking Point!

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