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Guns for Bloody Combat or
Defense of Civil Society?


Steve Loomis, LTC, U.S. Army (Ret) 

The bloodshed in our schools, malls and streets will continue unabated now that Congress gave in to the money and public threats of the gun lobby. The sooner our elected officials stop their dance with the devil's guns the safer we will all then be.

Once or twice a week, I drive across town to a mall or out to the VA to visit one of our vets in the hospital. Do I have to worry about people carrying guns at the mall? Do I have to worry about guns in the cars I drive alongside? Do I have to worry about a burglar carrying a weapon into my home before I return? I am tired of having to worry every time I go out to the mall, or downtown, or just for a drive whether the people around me are carrying a weapon, legal or not, and knowing that if I carry a weapon it will only increase the danger. In fact the more people that carry a weapon in public the more likely we are to see injury or death in any potential or perceived confrontation.

As a combat officer who led an infantry platoon in the Highlands of Vietnam in 1969-70, I carried an M-16 assault rifle and was trained to effectively use every weapon authorized in an infantry battalion. My men were well trained in the use of their weapons and never once misused them.  This was true for several reasons; first, their backgrounds were mandatorily screened at enlistment for mental issues, criminal records and suitability. They were trained to use their weapons in battle under the Law of Land Warfare and use them as a part of their team. They were more likely to use their weapons with discipline and responsibility. Ridiculously, this means military personnel must have a background check to carry an assault rifle in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in our home communities, criminals and mentally ill can purchase guns and assault weapons and carry them at will. Any GI or veteran knows these assault weapons are weapons of war, not personal protection. The truth is shotguns are far better for home protection. Strong locks, an alarm, a dog, even a well placed rose bush may be better home protection.

If law abiding citizens need guns to protect themselves, it is primarily to protect themselves from those who do not obtain their guns through background checks, and perhaps also from fanatics who are members of extreme political groups and national arms organizations.

As a combat officer I have aimed my gun with the intent to kill. That is not a responsibility to be taken lightly or in a moment of passion or false bravado. I have had a gun aimed at me and I suspect that the gun holder was more afraid than I was. That only increases the chance the trigger will be pulled.

My father and I used to be National Rifle Association members but not anymore. When NRA opposes universal backgrounds checks for firearms, it stands for something that most Americans no longer want. My dad and Scouting taught me in the out of doors. As a young man I hunted water fowl and field birds with my Browning shotgun, and deer with my rifle. Rifle hunting was too easy, so I changed to hunting deer with a bow. Now I hunt with a camera. Other than being shot at in Vietnam, the closest I ever came to injury was by a inexperienced and untrained "long time hunter". It wasn't Dick Chaney.

If we look more closely at the mass murders of Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown (27 mostly 5-6 year olds killed, ), Century Theatre in Aurora (12 killed, 58 wounded), Tucson (1 Congress woman wounded, 6 killed including 1 Federal Judge, 12 wounded), Virginia Tech in Blacksburg (32 killed, 17 wounded) and Columbine High School (12 killed, 21 wounded), they reveal something the gun lobby will not admit. Although universal background checks would probably not have stopped all five of these mass murders, they would have reduced the incidents and the numbers killed. Definitely! Each of the murders should have been denied purchase, possession and use of firearms and assault weapons that did so much damage for reasons of mental illness, age, or criminal convictions.

Most of the mass killings have been done with guns bought without mandatory background checks, or acquired from family or friends without background checks. It is essential for public safety, that we prevent criminals, mentally unbalanced and underage from buying or otherwise obtaining guns, particularly assault weapons. In the past thirty years in our country there have been over 3500 deaths caused by terrorism. In that same time 900,000 gun deaths of all types have occurred.

Just because a person can or does carry a weapon does not make them responsible or safe. It is more likely they become more dangerous to themselves and those around them. Why? The simple act that they carry a weapon clearly implies they are willing to use it. Are they trained as law enforcement officers to recognize when, where and how to use deadly force? No! Most are not and this only increases the danger to those around them and to themselves, particularly if they perceive an insult to their fragile masculinity.

Some citizens use the cover of constitutional rights to make an insane argument that anyone should be able to carry any weapon. They hype a remote fear of "weapons confiscation" compromising or outright stealing the safety of our families, schools, malls, communities under claims that more weapons will make us safer. Those arguments are absurd. They argue against universal background checks allowing even more guns into the hands of potentially dangerous convicted criminals, mentally ill and under age. How can the presence of guns in everyone's hands truly make us safer? Or is it just asking for more gun fights on our public streets?

No one is arguing for registration to remove all guns from our society. The 2d Amendment clearly protects the right of gun ownership under the provision "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed", but it says nothing about preventing criminals, mentally ill or under age from obtaining them. The first part of the amendment clearly allows select limits under the provision of "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State...."

I fought hard and long in our courts and legislatures as a gay soldier for the right to serve my country and now to retire in peace. To lose my life or limb now to some random gunshot incident by someone who obtained a gun without a universal background check or some wild shot by an ill trained hotshot trying to stop someone he thought a criminal on the street, would be ironic in the extreme knowing the gun lobby helped make it possible.

Multiple systematic national polls show 80-90% of Americans want universal background checks, while the gun lobby polls claims the opposite.  Their polls are "opt in polls", notoriously taken from those they contact, always favorable to them. Major police chief organizations, on the other hand, strongly favor universal background checks. U.S. citizens support universal background checks, knowing that it will not prevent law abiding citizens from obtaining personal weapons. Even so, the Senate voted with the gun lobby to block universal background checks.

Former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford was right when she wrote the searing truth that the U.S. Senate is afraid of the gun lobby and grovels for its millions of dollars of lobbying money. A Senate minority voted under the clear open threat of the gun lobby and its millions of dollars of blood money, to prevent universal background checks. They are claiming that the more guns we have in the hands of everyone, including criminals, mentally ill and under age, the safer we all will be. Baloney, lies, hogwash! The fear of the gun lobby and its gun manufacturing partners killed this bill in the Senate.

With the gun lobby and gun manufacturers, bombers and murders have the best, most wealthy lobby in American politics. In previous years they blocked universal background checks and also explosive chemical tags that would have allowed investigators to dependably trace bomb components such as used in the Oklahoma City, Montgomery and Boston bombings among dozens of others.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013, was the blackest most disgraceful day in our Senate since the dark hateful days of the McCarthy hearings, only this will continue to be far more deadly than anything Joseph McCarthy did. Those Senators are dancing with the devil and must know we will not tolerate their self serving dance.

  2013 Steve Loomis, Gay Military Signal