General Stanley McChrystal and General David Petraeus are headlining a list of powerful former flag officers from all of the military’s armed services who are supporting a new gun control advocacy group, The Veterans Coalition for Common Sense. Both generals retain enormous popularity within the veteran community, but that might change if this new group comes across more as gun grabbers than veterans’ advocates.
According to Internet reports, the group seeks the following:
- Urging our elected leaders to close the loopholes in our background check laws that let felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns without a criminal background check.
- Strengthening existing laws and ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent gun tragedies.
- Partnering with other groups in the veterans community on suicide prevention and mental health.
The same site lists the following individuals as supporters of the new initiative:
Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Ret.), Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions
Admiral Thad Allen, USCG (Ret.)
General Peter W. Chiarelli, USA (Ret.)
General Wesley Clark, USA (Ret.)
General Michael V. Hayden, USAF (Ret.)
General (Ret.) James T. Hill, USA
Admiral James M. Loy, USCG (Ret.)
General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.)
Admiral Eric T. Olson, USN (Ret.)
General David Petraeus, USA (Ret.)
Lt. General Claudia J. Kennedy, USA (Ret.)
Lt. General Norman R. Seip, USAF (Ret.)
Lt. General William “Kip” E. Ward, USA (Ret.)
Rear Admiral James Arden “Jamie” Barnett Jr., USN (Ret.)
Major General Vance Coleman, USA (Ret.)
Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.)
Brigadier General Evelyn “Pat” Foote, USA (Ret.)
Captain Gail Kulisch, USCG (Ret.)
Commander Carlos Del Toro, USN (Ret.)
Dave Korus, U.S. Air Force Veteran
Jonathan Sanford, U.S. Army Veteran
Terron Sims II, U.S. Army Veteran
Shawn J. VanDiver, U.S. Navy Veteran
The same site also offers testimonials from several of the participants. Marine Corps retiree Brigadier General Cheney had this to say:
Each year, approximately 6,000 of our fellow veterans take their own life, and two-thirds of those veterans who choose to end their life do so with a gun. We know that this gun violence crisis has many causes, and therefore, that there is no single solution. But I’m joining this effort because I know that we can do better.”
The Guardian newspaper also quoted him as saying “Our laws don’t support responsible gun ownership and far too often guns fall into the hands of dangerous, irresponsible people.” that type of verbiage is unlikely to go over well in the veteran community, which tends to be very conservative when it comes to gun rights.
The veteran community is typically enthusiastically supportive of any effort to reduce veteran suicide and gun violence involving veterans, but they are understandably deeply skeptical about further moves to curtail their 2nd Amendment rights. As currently laid out, the VCCS platform is unlikely to gain traction among veterans and their supporters. Many veterans would probably say that if this group would better serve the veteran community and the nation by focusing its attention elsewhere, perhaps on fixing the VA or addressing mental health issues in the veteran community.
I’m willing to wait and see more specifically what this group is lobbying for, but right now, it doesn’t look promising. If they really are into “common sense” gun laws, they should start by lobbying for universal carry permits that are good throughout the US, instead of the bewildering patchwork of laws currently in place. That would go a long way towards fixing problems veterans face when it comes to gun laws, and would also build a sense that this time, “common sense gun laws” doesn’t mean what it normally means: “give up more of your rights.” Right now though, it’s looking like more of the same thing that veterans have come to expect whenever someone starts talking about “common sense” and guns.