'American Sniper' Chris Kyle Shot Dead
We can't handle the truth. Creation Date Sunday, 03 February 2013. Hits 50514
Chris Kyle was a Navy SeAL and an American hero. He was known as America's deadliest sniper. His 150 plus kills landed him 2 Silver Starts and 5 Bronze Medals. His longest confirmed kill was a shot that traveled 2,100 yards to it's target, an insurgent holding a rocket launcher. Chris returned home to (reportedly, less I be sued by the former wrestler turned complete fruitcake) punch out Jim Janos who is better known as Jesse Ventura. If he hadn't already been a hero, he would have become one in my book at that time. He also wrote his autobiography which quickly became a bestseller, and spent a lot of his time trying to help troops who had returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and other mental health issues. Yesterday, Chris Kyle was shot dead by one of those men.
I don't really want to write this. My heart isn't in it. I do so out of a sense of duty, some real or imagined obligation to the truth... to intellectual honesty. I think that there are two kinds of hero in this world, and by that I mean real heroes. Not some schmuck who wrote a couple of books and managed his image well enough to become president, or some hapless fool who is good enough at pretending to be something he is not to land a role in a few movies. I'm talking about the people who are ordinary citizens who do extraordinary things. Some heroes sign up for the job, others get drafted. Some take an oath to defend or to serve and protect, others have it thrust upon them. An 18 year old kid knows what he is doing when he signs a paper, picks up a gun, and heads off to war. Another sees a building on fire and rushes in to save a life without thinking. But the one thing that they have in common is that neither of them know what they are getting into, and many look back and wonder if they would do it again if presented with the same set of circumstances. That is fine too. Nobody can be brave forever, a hero is just brave for a few minutes longer than the rest of us. Or in the case of Chris Kyle, a few years.
His death comes at a bad time for the gun rights people, of which I am one. On the heels of the shooting in Newtown Connecticut, the left is perched to clamp down on gun ownership rights. You will hear the claims of a gun culture from the left and dismiss it instantly as left wing rhetoric. I say not so fast. Do we have a culture in this Country that has completely and totally abandoned common sense when it comes to guns? Consider this from the report of the death of Mr. Kyle.
Mr. Kyle, 38, author of the best selling book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” was with a struggling former soldier on just such an outing on Saturday, hoping that a day at a shooting range would bring some relief, said a friend, Travis Cox.
But the Texas authorities said Sunday that for unknown reasons, the man turned on Mr. Kyle and a second man, Chad Littlefield, shooting and killing both before fleeing in a pickup truck.
“Chad and Chris had taken a veteran out to shoot to try to help him,” Mr. Cox said. “And they were killed.”
The police identified the gunman as Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old veteran with a history of mental illness who had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The police offered no information about a possible motive.
How does this happen? Haven't the lines of the debate been clearly drawn? Isn't there more awareness now than ever before about the dangers of people with mental health issues having weapons? We had a saying in the Marines that was born for this occasion. Good initiative, bad judgement. Chris Kyle had his heart in the right place, but his head was up his ass. Yes, we need to help our troops who come home with mental health problems they suffered while doing our dirty work. No, you can't hand them a loaded weapon while they still suffer from their issues. And in Texas of all places?
I grew up in Connecticut. I was raised in a household that was free of guns, and I was not allowed to even have toy guns. I was never trained by my father in the use of firearms for hunting or for any other purpose. My family wasn't liberal or anti-gun. We just didn't have them, but we were taught that a gun was not a toy. I do not currently own a gun nor do I intend to, but I have always respected the right of others to own one. Yet now I find myself questioning this notion. Chris Kyle grew up in Odessa Texas with guns and hunting as a part of his life and went on to become a Navy Sniper. If his judgement with a firearm can be this poor, how in the world can I trust a guy with my upbringing to handle the same weapon?
I can't say that this will ultimately change my position on the issue, but I can say it severely wounds my position on the issue. I have the intellectual honesty to admit that. The age of the second amendment has nothing to do with its practicality, but our culture does. I can't tell you how many times I have heard an idiot liberal talk show host say that the second amendment was written during the age of the single shot musket, and thus limits out right to keeping and bearing such devices. Kind of funny when you think of it, isn't it? I am willing to cede your point that the founding fathers could not have envisioned an AK 47 if you will accept my notion that the founding fathers also could not have seen a scenario where you could sit at a desk in New York and beam your voice up to a satellite where it will be sent back down to a receiver in my truck. If the second amendment limits my gun rights to a single shot musket, then the first limits your free speech right to cupping your hands and yelling.
There is a structure of law and order that must be followed here. Out of a true respect for the Constitution I cannot support a flat out gun ban. But out of the overwhelming evidence of a society that just can't seem to handle the damn things, I wonder if it is time to consider an amendment that severely limits the ownership and usage rights of these weapons altogether. Perhaps I'm just saddened by the loss of one of the few heroes we know today, and disappointed with the bad decision that proved to be his last. Maybe tomorrow I will get my gun rights groove back, but I don't know. This is a tough one. Newtown Connecticut showed what a lunatic can do when a gun falls in his hands. That is an anomaly, not our culture.
Chris Kyle was one of the mainstays that we would point to. He is a man who knew that weapon well, respected it, and used it for good to save the lives of our troops. Newtown was a cultural flaw that we know is there and can't really fix. There will always be crazy people and they will do insane things. No law can prevent that. You take the guns and they will use knives, see China. Chris, on the other hand, wasn't part of the problem. He was part of the solution. He was one of the good guys we point to in making our case for the good that guns do. He lived by the gun, and had The Devil of Rahmadi died by the gun in an Iraqi desert there would be some level of psychological reckoning that could be done with that. But to survive war only to die at the hands of one of our own troops at a gun range in Texas? It's hard to take the measure of that and without questioning where we stand.
In Boot Camp the drill instructors had a strict and unique way of dealing with problems. The first offense or two were often punished on an individual basis, but the third offense would typically bring group punishment. So if a recruit was talking during his meal, he may find himself getting dug in the pit afterwards. If his behavior continued, the whole platoon might march through the line, collect our food, and head straight to the scullery line to discard it. The message was simple. If one of us couldn't handle chow time in a professional manner, then all of us had a problem. Come lights out, we would often "remind" that recruit how much we liked out meals and problems would get solved. Perhaps it is time for some group punishment here in the good old U S of A. If one of us can't handle our weapons, then all of us have a problem. The trouble is, when Uncle Sam taketh away he never giveth back.