A Killing In Texas
Paul Moseley/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, via Associated Press
by Ann Werner
The shooting of Chris Kyle, former member of SEAL Team 3, author of The New York Times best selling autobiography American Sniper and known as “American’s deadliest sniper” with over 150 confirmed kills, has fueled the conversation about mental health and guns in America.
Kyle, a 38-year-old military veteran, and his neighbor, former veteran Chad Littlefield, were fatally shot by former Marine Eddie Routh, 25, when the two accompanied Routh to a shooting range. It is suspected that Routh may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and that Kyle and Littlefield had taken him to the shooting range as a kind of therapy. Kyle believed that vets afflicted with PTSD could be helped to work out some of their problems by handling weapons in a controlled environment.
Kyle’s friend and former SEAL, Rorke Denver said, “While it sounds backwards, I actually think time on the range and using those skill sets in a controlled and safe environment could be a huge benefit to veterans.”
I leave it to others to come to their own conclusions regarding whether or not that line of reasoning is sound, but this incident provides irrefutable evidence that even those who are among the most skilled at handling weapons can be victims of gun violence.
One of the favorite arguments emanating from those who oppose tougher gun laws is that “responsible” gun owners are the answer to our gun woes in this country and that more, not less, guns are needed to insure the safety of everyone. And yet, a highly trained professional killer, albeit one who is regarded as a hero, was unable to recognize and ultimately to stop having a weapon turned on him and his neighbor. Now both men are dead, Routh is in jail and receiving death threats, women are widowed and children have been made fatherless.
The Montpelier Exempted Village Schools Board of Education voted 5-0 to approve the carrying of handguns by the custodial staff. That’s janitors, ladies and gentlemen. They’ll get some training, but it certainly won’t come anywhere near the training provided to members of the military, let alone SEAL training. In light of these circumstances, one must ask if the proposals put forth by gun advocates to arm teachers or other school staff is a good idea.
The NRA has loudly voiced its opposition to any and all safe and sane gun measures, even in the midst of what is now becoming an ever-escalating number of shootings and gun accidents. They have poured gasoline on the feverish fire of fear and paranoia in this country to stir up otherwise rational people. And yes, there are liberals out there who get their shorts in a wad when the discussion is about banning the sales of military style assault weapons, high capacity magazines and a national registry. Things that the NRA used to advocate, like universal background checks, including the private sales of weapons and gun show sales, are now an infringement on our freedoms.
It is true that we must address mental health issues and it is a travesty that our returning veterans must wait months before being seen for problems suffered as a result of their service to our country. But the oft-made statement that guns are not the problem is a bunch of malarkey.
I am not naïve enough to believe that guns will be eradicated from our society. We are a country in love with guns; that much has been made clear in the debate raging since the terrible massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. But can we at least agree that we have a problem? Much like an alcoholic, only when we acknowledge that a problem exists can we begin to solve it. Until we do, there will continue to be carnage on our streets and in our homes and every so often a mass shooting will capture our attention to remind us that we have abdicated our responsibility to keeping the promise made by our forefathers: the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That promise has been taken away from far too many people for far too long and it’s time we stop pointing fingers and making accusations and sit down at the table together. It’s We the People – not us and them.
Ann Werner is a blogger and the author of CRAZY and Dreams and Nightmares. You can view her work at ARK Stories
Visit her on Twitter @MsWerner and Facebook