Dept. of Defense again attempts to trample on Second Amendment rights of returning U.S. military troops

by Linda Walker

If it was not enough that Marines were forced to disarm at their base at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan this past March when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta paid a visit, I read with personal interest an article in regard to depressed returning troops recently posted at, entitled "DoD Could Renew Push to Restrict Personal Weapons."

According to the article "The Pentagon appears ready to take on gun rights advocates this year in order to give commanders the ability to restrict troops at high risk of suicide from keeping their personal firearms easily available in their homes." The article goes on to quote Dr. Jonathan Woodson, an assistant secretary of the defense for health affairs, "In many circumstances, awareness of risk means removing firearms from those who we believe are at risk of harming themselves or others."

Admirable, perhaps, on the surface, but what is it that would qualify a soldier or Marine to be labeled "at risk" of suicide? Weeks, months and years of training to go to war? Long days and nights in the field with little sleep? Juggling the military life during the day and coming home to their spouse and children at the end of the day? Or, returning back home after a 12-15 month deployment in Afghanistan, living day and night with the possibility that every step you step, or every mile that is driven, or every incoming small arms fire could end your life at any given moment? Dealing with that, does that put the label of being "at risk" of committing suicide on our returning troops?

It is a slippery slope when our troops can be labeled "at risk" and lose their Second Amendment rights because they have willingly fought for the freedoms of our country. They raised their right hand and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and defend our country against foreign and domestic enemies, but who's protecting them when they return to their home base?

It is of course a huge tragedy when even one of our soldiers or Marines takes their own life. But stripping away their Second Amendment rights the moment they step back on U.S. soil is a larger tragedy to the rest. Our service members have their rifles strapped to their bodies 24/7/365 while in Afghanistan and also on the airplane flight back to the U.S. Shortly after their feet hit the ground here, they turn those rifles in.

But, requiring them to turn in their personal firearms kept in their own homes is beyond comprehension. One does not lose their Constitutional rights because they have fought in a war!

"A majority of [suicides] have two things in common, alcohol and a gun..." the article states.

Well actually, they have three things in common, but we don't talk about three or more deployments to a war zone, year after year after year. We don't talk about that the only counseling troops get when they return is the mandatory next day "don't beat your wife and kids" seminar. Until DoD starts addressing the mental PTSD that comes home with our troops instead of ignoring it, there will potentially be suicides. Instead of disarming our military, perhaps the Department of Defense should look at treating the stress, anxiety and PTSD that goes along with fighting in a war zone with regular counseling instead of putting a bandaid on it.

Let us visit perhaps what the real core of this issue of disarming our troops by the DoD. One of the comments following the article from a retired Army Special Forces Major and battalion commander sums it up quite well: "This is an attempt to squash a citizen's 2d Amendment Rights!" He goes on to state "I realize that there is an unspoken rule that limits a soldier's Constitutional Rights, such as what we witnessed in the case against the Marine sergeant who spoke out against the Commander-in-Chief. However, this is a 'material ownership' right and this move is an infringement on that right! Treat the soldier for suicidal tendencies. The soldier can obtain a firearm anywhere, just as common criminals do. And, it not's to say that a soldier might use a firearm to commit suicide when it can be accomplished using much less intrusive methods! Give me a break! This goes too far!"

Think for just a moment... what if our soldiers had not been disarmed at Ft. Hood on November 5, 2009? What if...?

"The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." - Thomas Jefferson

Linda Walker is the Central OH Chair of Buckeye Firearms Association, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association, NRA-ILA EVC for Ohio's 12th Congressional District, 2009 recipient of the NRA's "Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award," NRA certified instructor and the proud parent of two U.S. Army soldiers.

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