Can Vets Help US Citizens Get Gun Control Enacted?

Posted Saturday, June 18, 2016 in Other by Patricia Seybold

In the aftermath of the Orlando Mass Shooting, there are the usual feeble attempts to strengthen legislation to control the sale of assault weapons in the U.S. Why can't the people in this country make it clear that we are devastated by the rampant gun violence: mass shootings, school shootings, street shootings, gang shootings, domestic violence? Various polls show that 90% of Americans favor stronger controls on the sale of ammunition, assault weapons, and firearms. Yet Congress has not been able to pass legislation, with more big money behind the US sale and manufacture of firearms than opposed to it.

I was encouraged by the Democrats' Sit-In on June 23rd/24th led by Civil Rights Activist John Lewis.

Democrats' Gun Control Sit-In

Stan McChrystal Leads Gun Control Charge

I was also encouraged by this Editorial which ran in the New York Times and in a number of publications, by Retired U.S. Army General, Stanley McChrystal, entitled Home Should Not be a War Zone, in which he exhorts his fellow soldiers and veterans to make their voices heard on behalf of gun control. He says:

"Today, some of our politicians and the people who back them seem to promote a culture of gun ownership that does not conform with what I learned in the military.

Here at home, many of us are alarmed by the carnage. We are alarmed by loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers get hold of guns without a background check. We are alarmed that a known or suspected terrorist can go to a federally licensed firearms dealer where background checks are conducted, pass that background check, legally purchase a firearm and walk out the door.

Now veterans are speaking out. Last Friday, two days before the tragedy in Orlando, a new initiative, the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense, led by the Navy combat veteran Capt. Mark Kelly and his wife, the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was announced. Those of us serving on its advisory committee come from every branch of our military and virtually every rank. We are trained in the use of firearms, and many of us have served in combat. And we all think our country must do more to save lives from being cut short by gun violence.

As this national crisis continues to rage, I ask my fellow veterans — patriots who have worn the uniform, who took an oath to protect our Constitution and the Second Amendment, who served this great country — to add your voice to this growing call for change. America needs you."

I very much appreciate this effort. I hope that it will be the difference in our efforts that makes a difference in our ability to finally pass legislation to increase background checks and to better control the sale and possession of guns. Here's the list of amazing veterans that have signed up to support stronger gun control legislation:

  • Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Ret.), Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions
  • Admiral Thad  Allen, USCG (Ret.)
  • General Peter W. Chiarelli, USA (Ret.)
  • General Wesley Clark, USA (Ret.)
  • General Michael V. Hayden, USAF (Ret.)
  • General (Ret.) James T. Hill, USA
  • Admiral James M. Loy, USCG (Ret.)
  • General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.)
  • Admiral Eric T. Olson, USN (Ret.)
  • General David Petraeus, USA (Ret.)
  • Lt. General Claudia J.  Kennedy, USA (Ret.)
  • Lt. General Norman R. Seip, USAF (Ret.)
  • Lt. General William “Kip” E. Ward, USA (Ret.)
  • Rear Admiral James Arden “Jamie” Barnett Jr., USN (Ret.)
  • Major General Vance Coleman, USA (Ret.)
  • Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.)
  • Brigadier General Evelyn “Pat” Foote, USA (Ret.)
  • Captain Gail Kulisch, USCG (Ret.)
  • Commander Carlos Del Toro, USN (Ret.)
  • Dave Korus, U.S. Air Force Veteran
  • Jonathan Sanford, U.S. Army Veteran
  • Terron Sims II, U.S. Army Veteran
  • Shawn J. VanDiver, U.S. Navy Veteran

Among their chief concerns is the increase in gun violence in our neighborhoods and the number of veteran suicides.

"Making our communities safer from gun violence shouldn’t have to be a partisan idea – it’s just a commonsense idea. That’s why so many Americans – including veterans like me – support these policies. We’re standing together and demanding commonsense change because we have a responsibility to leave to our kids and grandkids a country that is safer from gun violence.”

Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett, United States Navy (Ret.).

“Each year, approximately 6,000 of our fellow veterans take their own life, and two-thirds of those veterans who choose to end their life do so with a gun. We know that this gun violence crisis has many causes, and therefore, that there is no single solution. But I’m joining this effort because I know that we can do better.” 

Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, United States Marine Corps (Ret).

Let's Ban Assault Weapons!

Twenty years ago, after a mass shooting, the Australian legislature banned assault weapons and arranged for a buy back of assault weapons and guns that people already owned. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since then.

Ban Assault Weapons

It's time for American legislators to pay attention to the wishes of the majority of the people.I hope that military active duty and retired personnel will continue to lead the charge for gun control. I hope that with this prodding, the US Congress (or the President) will strengthen mental health, criminal and terrorist checks required for the sale of firearms, ensure that weapons are secured, and ban the possession and sale of assault weapons and initiatie a buy back of assault weapons in the US. 

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