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Military Looks to Track Privately Owned Weapons

Perspectives  October 08 2012
 — By CJ Grisham
Military Looks to Track Privately Owned Weapons

“Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” –Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

A friend send me a recent New York Times article that details the Pentagon’s desire to take away privately owned weapons (POW) from troops under certain circumstances.

Up until about last year, military commanders used to demand that their Soldiers reveal the types and numbers of POWs they owned, regardless of whether they lived in military housing or not. This information was reported up to higher commands. However, the issue of suicide wasn’t nearly as bad then as it is now so military leaders are trying to use suicide as the excuse for once again documenting weapons in the hands of troops.

I’m completely opposed to this practice for many reasons. For one, I don’t fully believe that the real reason is to “prevent suicide.” If you take away the guns of a Soldier thought to be suicidal, he will just go get another one, either by purchasing it or borrowing it. And, there are other ways that suicidal troops will carry out their demise if they have no access to guns. It’s a hollow argument to use in order to violate one’s individual rights to self defense, even when their worst enemy is themselves.

However, I think there is a much more sinister reason behind wanting to track POWs in the hands of troops. In 2009, The Department of Homeland Defense released a controversial report that identified combat veterans as potential terrorists.

The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

It’s no surprise that shortly after this report was revealed that commanders began asking troops about their privately owned firearms.

Thankfully, the NRA and gun rights advocates successfully had an amendment to the much-reviled National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) the specifically prohibited commanders from collecting information on privately owned weapons stored outside of military installations.

The gun control crowd, under the guise of wanting to “prevent suicides,” has successfully reversed that law with an amendment into the 2013 NDAA. This amendment has already been passed by the House of Representatives, but not the Senate. Even more disconcerting is that the NRA actually supports the new amendment, something that baffles my mind since weapons are already tracked through NICS.

The new amendment, part of the defense authorization bill for 2013 that has been passed by the House of Representatives but not by the Senate, would allow mental health professionals and commanders to ask service members about their personal firearms if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe the person is at “high risk” of committing suicide or harming others.

“We’re O.K. with the commanding officer being able to inquire,” said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the N.R.A., “but they can’t confiscate.”

What isn’t so clear is what constitutes “reasonable grounds” or “high risk.” According to the military, because I ride a motorcycle, I’m in the same “high risk” category as a 19-year old kid buying his first bike. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was eight years old. Some commanders believe that troops are “high risk” just by virtue of even owning a weapon.

The problem with such broad terms is that it leaves interpretation up to commanders and leaders. What if the commander is an ardent gun control supporter? What if the commander just doesn’t like a Soldier? Believe me, there are examples of both types of leaders in the military.

Getting back to my sinister conspiracy theory, what if the military is ordered to violate its oath and mission by being tasked with domestic law enforcement or actions that violate the Posse Comitatus Act? In such incidents, the military is required by oath to defend the Constitution and ignore illegal orders. It isn’t too far from reality to think that there won’t come a day (thankfully nowhere in the foreseeable future) when troops are going to have to make a difficult decision between their oath to support and defend the Constitution and their orders to seize a small American town. Government is not immune from being corrupt and sometimes only the influence of an armed corps of veterans can correct it, as we saw in the 40s in Tennessee during the Battle for Athens.

Again, I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate here. I don’t suggest or even assume this is a possible reality. My purpose in bringing that up is merely to point out the pitfalls of forcing troops to reveal their personal defense measures. There are ways of minimizing suicides that have nothing to do with violating the privacy and civil rights of troops.

We need leaders to engage in dialogue with their subordinates. We need leaders that truly look at the suicide epidemic in the military as a real threat to readiness and care enough to do more than just the required annual or quarterly training. Honestly, I only see that in a rare few officers.

The past suicide prevention stand down day highlighted this. Many leaders didn’t use the time to honestly and emotionally connect with their troops. I know that sounds hokey, but we have to remember that our troops have sustained the longest period of armed conflict in our entire history. The approaches to dealing with the issues that have arisen from fighting an invisible enemy and nearly impossible ROE requirements has done great damage physically and mentally.

I urge you to take the time to contact your Senators and make your opinion known. You can contact them through this link if you don’t have it readily available. I’m not telling you to support this legislation or not, I’m just telling you to get engaged in it regardless of your thoughts on the matter.

(7) Readers Comments

  1. We need to take America back from these Obama Muslims and get them out of our country. ASAP! I am all for citizens being armed. We are in the worst possible times in History, I believe. The end time and the Obama the Anti-Christ has been with us for sometime now. We are being too lame in dealing with Obama. He has proved many times he is not for us. I believe many Democrats also would like to see us take Obama out, too. But, scarred of his so called POWER over them. They are traitors to America and COWARDS. God Bless you Republicans that love America as I do. Four of my brothers were in the service. One was in Normandy battle.

  2. This is BS…I spent 21 years in the military and never once was I asked if I had POWs…This administration is corrupt and evil at all levels of power…weapons just happens to be the militarys business private or publicly owned…publicly owned they are accounted for by serial numbers…privately…its non of their damn business…hands off the 2nd amendment rights of the military personnel…

  3. As a former supply sergeant I used to story POW in the unit arms room. it was extremely hard for the troops to access the weapons for target practice or hunting. My advise is to store any weapons or ammo off post and never reveal the facts to anyone in your chain of command. I would be very careful about anyone else knowing your stash either. Rent a storage unit and put a gun safe in it. My 2¢ worth.

  4. There is no greater infringement then this, If the oath takers are not deserving of the rights they protect then what makes you think, joe smoe civilian is not next? disgusting. So now criminals will assume that current serving personnel are disarmed and crimes against the military will rise.

  5. Pingback: Political Newsletter: Week ending 10/13/2012 | US Common Sense

  6. Polls show military personnel oppose the Socialist in Chief almost 2-1. Now the election is over and Obama is back in, I have to believe if it comes down to our 2nd Amendment rights were being destroyed, the military would stand with the US citizens and the Constitution. All of US swore the oath to the document, NOT to a man or a party. Current military, vets, the civilian population would have to stand united and I believe that would happen. I also believe this president would appeal to the UN and bring in foreign troops to put down any resistance and would have no problem in authorizing deadly force, as well as detention camps.

    Hopefully, we are awake enough to prepare for it.

  7. Pingback: Where Have All The Patriots Gone? | A Soldier's Perspective

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