Being a Gun Owner/Soldier Doesn’t Make You an Expert on Gun Policy

As a gun owner, I’m not an expert on guns.  I can freely admit that. However, this is hard for some.  Usually, as in the example linked, they know less about guns than I do. They want their kids to be safe but they don’t like the NRA. They fail to realize that the National Rifle Association (NRA)  pretty much wrote the book on gun safety education.  Here’s a link to that site.

Next, is GI Joe (or Jane or both, I guess).  He carried a gun the military but doesn’t believe the rest of us should — even though a lot of us who were in the military own and still train with firearms.  Here is Army veteran and transgender (I’m not sure why that matters here) Charlotte Clymer:

The problem with this narrative (besides a lack of research or data suggesting more guns does indeed prevent violence broadly) is that killing another human being, even a “bad” one, is not easy. This is not “Call of Duty”: Despite the damage that modern weaponry can inflict, there is a reason that soldiers and law enforcement officers receive thousands of hours of training in firearms and tactics. This training is physical, mechanical and, most importantly, psychological, because in order to efficiently and effectively kill other human beings in high-stress situations, one must be conditioned to negotiate that stress.

I should know, because I went through it. As an U.S. Army infantryman, I spent thousands of hours, beginning in basic training and continuing throughout my service, becoming comfortable with killing and learning how to do so in a responsible manner. The psychological strength required to act quickly and effectively in a mass shooting comes from the kind of monotonous training that over several years builds up muscle memory. It is tedious and often boring, and that’s the point: it enables soldiers to respond in stressful situations as though it’s second nature.

The U.S. Army’s basic marksmanship training — just learning how to care for a rifle and shoot it — is three weeks long. That’s 18 full days (Sundays are usually semi-restful) spent getting comfortable with your rifle, learning how to dissemble and reassemble it, clean it, perform a functions check, correct malfunctions, load and unload it, conduct peer training with fellow privates, adjust its sights and, finally, how to actually aim and fire it.

It took him/her — again why does this matter– years of rigorous training and “thousands of hours” over an 18 day period.  Clymer’s argument, not mine.

How does this stuff get published?

These people are not experts. They do not know the history of guns, the law, the policy, or even, probably, how guns work. Fun fact, there is not a center fire rifle or handgun out there that at one time was not the latest, most deadly weapon in the hands of soldiers.  That bolt action Remington/Winchester rifle was based on a German infantry rifle.  The lever action rifle was a calvary weapon. Colt pistols were built for the military as well (revolvers).  The AR-15 (M4 clone) and it’s variants are just the latest in a long, long line of American soldiers bringing home their rifles.  It’s the same with modern handguns.  So, please, spare me the weapons of war… They all have military applications; they all come from the military.

Being a hunter or soldier does not make you an expert.  Just like being a driver doesn’t make you a Formula 1 racer.  Firearms policy is complex. It deals with trade-offs and is filled with misinformation, misnomers and plain old prejudice. Even the experts get things wrong.  But it is more so for that soldier who had years of training over three weeks. Being a soldier doesn’t make one a military historian or an arms expert.  It doesn’t make them an expert on the use of force nor on training. I’m sorry, but that you can point and shoot doesn’t give you any particular insight. In fact, it may even hinder your perspective.

Weigh that in mind the next time you read or hear, “As a gun owner.”


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