From Stanley McChrystal
The following is from an Op-Ed in the New York Times
Home Should Not Be A War Zone – A BATTLEFIELD on our soil.
That was my reaction on Sunday, like that of so many of my fellow Americans and fellow soldiers, as I began to learn about the horror that unfolded early that morning in Orlando, Fla., when a dangerous man opened fire in a nightclub with a high-powered, military-style rifle.
As Americans came together to celebrate the freedom that our great country affords and that our soldiers have given their lives to defend, 49 of them were murdered with a gun. Scores more were injured.
But that was just part of the bloodshed in our communities this past weekend, when at least 121 people across the country were fatally shot. The tragedy in Orlando wasn’t even the only mass shooting; in Roswell, N.M., a man was charged on Sunday with shooting his wife and their four children to death on Saturday. The oldest was 14; the youngest was 3.
In 2014, 33,599 Americans died from a gunshot wound. From 2001 to 2010, 119,246 Americans were murdered with guns, 18 times all American combat deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That is a national crisis. And as a combat veteran and proud American, I believe we need a national response to the gun violence that threatens so many of our communities.
Those of us who served in the military were trained in the effective and safe use of firearms. We were taught about the responsibility that comes with carrying a gun. As combat infantrymen and special operators, we received thousands of hours of firearms training.
In combat operations in places like Afghanistan, we often confronted the specter of dangerous people with powerful weapons who were a threat to their community and to our soldiers. Our aim was to quickly determine who in that community was a legitimate actor who could be trusted with a firearm and who was not.
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.
In my life as a soldier and citizen, I have seen time and time again that inaction has dire consequences. In this case, one consequence of our leaders’ inaction is that felons, domestic abusers and suspected terrorists have easy access to firearms.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal is a former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and of the Joint Special Operations Command, and a member of the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense.