Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Marine's Take on Gun Control

In the aftermath of the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the issue of gun control has enraged, and engaged, Americans from all walks of life. Emotions are running high. It is clear that America’s gun culture has to change, and change soon, for the killings to stop.

As a former active duty Marine (and Marine for life), David Mauk, 23, has seen both sides of the issue. He was deployed in Afghanistan from late 2010 to early 2011. By maintaining a high moral ground, he and his unit were able to earn the trust of the local Afghans. “We did it by removing the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the path of villagers, even though we risked our lives to do it.”

David had witnessed an Afghan child who had struck an IED that shattered his legs. He had seen firsthand the work of cruel men and knew that, whatever the politics and issues, his job was to try to make the village safe for the teeming children. He and his unit did it with honor, integrity and respect for the local culture and customs.

The experience in Afghanistan taught him that saving the lives of children was among the noblest of callings. That’s why he was so traumatized by the killing of twenty children in Newtown. At the same time, “guns are an important part of my life and culture. They have many good uses, such as hunting, as in my home state of Missouri. Hunting keeps the deer population from overbreeding and destroying valuable farmland.”

Unfortunately, not everyone has the character, training, and responsibility to use a gun in its proper context. David has seen far too many instances where criminals and mentally-disturbed individuals use them for evil purposes.

His proposal to fix the violent gun culture in America consists of the following:

-          Completely ban military style or rapid fire weapons and magazines. No one outside law enforcement or military needs such power. Assault weapons are NOT effective hunting weapons. They are meant only to kill people. We don't need them.

-          Require stricter screening before allowing the purchase of firearms.

-          Require regular training and evaluation administered by qualified law enforcement personnel.

-          Require a more accurate system of licensing gun ownership, much the same way that a concealed carry license works.

-          Require ammunition to be regulated at least as closely as, say, alcohol. Ammunition is the real key. Different types of ammunition and quantities of it would indicate what it would be used for.

-          Finally, require gun owners affiliate with the militia, as the Second amendment intended, and then rein in the militias to fulfill the intended purpose of arming and educating citizens for the good of society. As it stands now, militias are breeding grounds for conspiracy theorists, anti-government extremists, and other threats to the free and secure society we seek to create in America.

David has just begun his college career. He is a student at San Jose City College. In his first semester, he is taking courses in English, Chemistry and Math. He wants to be a park ranger for the U.S. Forest Service or the National Parks Service because “I love the outdoors and want to educate people about the world they live in. People invested their time in me to develop a love for the outdoors. I want to pass it on.”

David never went hunting in Missouri because he couldn’t afford all the equipment. He did, however, work with a conservation department at an animal rehabilitation center, where he learned that much of a conservationist’s job was to keep the animal population in check. “It is a fact of nature that animals hunt and kill each other. Sadly, because we hunted the predators to near extinction, the job now falls upon us. I have never been comfortable with this cruel fact, but at least I understand it. What I cannot accept is how easily high-powered guns can be bought in America. In particular, close-range assault rifles - preferred by criminals and mentally-ill people because they are so obscenely easy to use - are meant only to kill people. Why we allow people to buy them is beyond me.”

“I fought for this country so that we could have peace and freedom, not so I could come home to see people killing each other. In Afghanistan, my mission was to protect the civilians and neutralize violent radicals so that the Afghans might have a safe place to bring up their children. My mission is turned into a mockery when I come home to find disturbed individuals murdering children with military weapons.”

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