Army Officer Recommends Regulating Civilian Weapons As They Do in the Military

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One “regular Army officer” wrote a letter containing his recommendations for how firearms should be regulated in the civilian world. The officer, who identifies as “a Southerner who grew up shooting .22s in a field behind the house,” includes insights into how weapons are managed in the military, including how they are stored and requirements regarding training.

The Army officer, who states he has “served in frontline positions in Iraq” and that he owns “several ‘classic’ firearms like the M-1 Garand and a Martini-Henry,” wrote a letter that was published by The Atlantic outlining his thoughts on how guns should be regulated in the civilian world.

After providing an introduction into his background, he states, “All that to say that for the first time ever, I find myself more strongly on the side of gun control than of unrestricted gun circulation.”

He goes on to say that “in the Army, firearms are much more heavily regulated than in civil society,” adding the question, “How can so many enthusiastic gun owners say that they hold the military as a model, and yet not accept the strict regulations that go with the military’s use of firearms?”

“Probably with the same logic that they use when they buy military tactical kit and shoot GoPro videos on their homemade urban range, but would never carry a hundred pounds on their back for 20 miles or sit freezing in a foxhole for days on end,” he continues. “This is another facet of rights without responsibility, or privilege without duty, in our present ‘liquid society.’”

The Army officer then goes on to describe how weapons are managed in the Army.

“In the Army, firearms are stored under lock, key, and sometimes guard, and god help you if one goes missing,” he writes.

He also discusses training requirements, stating, “After basic training, soldiers are required to go through a few hours of refresher training with practical drills before they are even allowed on a range for individual shooting qualification. These are ranges that are heavily monitored, with a monumental emphasis on safety.”

The officer adds, “What might be shocking to people who have not been around the military is that if a soldier cannot qualify with his weapon, he is not allowed to carry or shoot it on live-fire exercises or downrange.”

He goes on to discuss the extensive drills they participate in.

He admits that “mass confiscation is not practical” for the vast array of firearms that are “in circulation,” noting that it is also “culturally undesirable” to head in that direction.

“But simple steps such as limiting high-capacity magazines, stringent background checks…, and a licensing process are all good starts.”

“As a very small child I was taught, with fear and wonder approaching holy revelation, that safety with firearms was paramount, and I intend to teach that to my children when they are old enough,” he adds. “But until more Americans interact with structures like the military where safety and social responsibility are innate to firearms, I don’t see how that sentiment can grow organically so that people will accept it, as opposed to seeing it as imposed from above.”

The Army officer closes with a few questions, asking, “Will most Americans grow up and out of the fairy tale that their right to bear arms is without nuance or burden of responsibility? Will they realize they are probably not Lone Rangers waiting for their moment to save the day in their home or school? That the intent of the second amendment is to ensure that any armed, but unorganized and untrained citizenry, is able to overthrow a tyrannical government (a ludicrous proposition, in any case)?”

“I am not sure,” he continues, “but our history and our geography—unlike that, say, of the Swiss, who have long seen firearms as a means to defend their country collectively from invasion—do not bode well for it….

“To put a final twist on Oscar Wilde, even in the niche of American gun culture we are living with both extreme barbarism and extreme decadence, with only a precarious sliver of civilization in between.”