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When I heard about the shooting at Fort Hood last week, one thing stood out to me: the alleged shooter – 34-year old Army Specialist Ivan Lopez – was being treated for mental health issues.
Mental health issues – many believed to be caused by duty in Afghanistan and Iraq – are a scourge upon our military. In 2012, a record 350 soldiers killed themselves. That’s more than died on the battlefield. And between 2008 and 2010, nearly two-thirds of all suicides in the United States military involved firearms.
One former military heavyweight whom I talked with last year, former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, said “enough”:
You're a general. You're an army man. You've spent your life around guns. You're comfortable with them. You know they can be used responsibly. But you also feel that when people are at risk in terms of mental issues, it’s very dangerous for them to have access to guns.
Chiarelli: It is very dangerous for them to have access to guns. I believe that…I would be very, very careful in not underestimating the impact of 13 years of war on an all-volunteer force. I think we were seeing, in those suicide numbers, some of the effect of repeated deployments and high stress and trauma…”
…What do you say to those who say, well, there is the Second Amendment and that's why you can't go much further with your efforts?
Chiarelli: I don't buy that. I don't believe the Second Amendment was put in place to take a person who is at high risk for hurting themselves, and put in their hands a weapon that in an impulsive moment, at a time when they're not thinking straight, they can end their life.
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