Honest Thoughts From a Veteran About Gun Control and Mental Health
‘Common sense gun laws,’ a lost generation, and realistic solutions about what needs to change
“What the hell do you need that weapon for?”
I whistled low through my teeth, feeling the tension mount as the comment lingered in the air. Each of us were desperate for someone to point out the obvious, yet when it happened I wanted to crawl under a table, eat popcorn, and watch from afar. I thought my fellow soldier’s comment would provoke a war of words but he doubled down and used a scorched-earth tactic.
“Is it so you can look cool in your office while jerking it to PowerPoint slides while we’re the ones left to catch bullets?”
The staff officer was visibly shocked and then turned a fury red.
“Get ahold of your soldier, first sergeant!” He roared.
While the rest of us tried to suppress giggles, our first sergeant clapped the insult-lobbing platoon sergeant on the neck and hurried him away.
The whole incident started when my Army unit discovered that the staff officers from our command were trying to commandeer our M4 carbine rifles. They planned to leave us with older M16 models that lacked optics and night vision capabilities. This became a point of contention, as almost all the staff officers had orders to work in a cubicle inside Baghdad’s Green Zone, while my team of 30 was being sent to Ramadi, Iraq. At the time, Ramadi was the most violent city on Earth, accounting for half of all daily attacks that happened in the country of Iraq. That same year, Ramadi would also account for half of all deaths that occurred in the United States Marine Corps between 2006 and 2007.
In the end, my team lucked out. The brigade commander stepped in and remained adamant that those in combat environments would receive the newer weapons.
Since leaving the military, I’ve been surprised by the number of people I’ve encountered who want to show me their AR-15s (the civilian version of an M4 or M16). They show them off as if we suddenly have a bond because they bought a weapon I went to war with and can strip apart blindfolded.