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    Posted January 1, 2013 by
    Williamsport, Pennsylvania
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Gun control debate: Background checks

    The 2nd Amendment and the Assault Weapons Ban: An Iraq War Veteran's Thoughts

    I own several semiautomatic, "military style" weapons, and I recently sent this letter to my state lawmakers:

    I served six years in the Army on active duty as a combat medic, including a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Myself and my fellow soldiers did not fight to uphold the whims of reactionary politicians, we fought to uphold the U.S. constitution, and to protect our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
    America is truly the greatest country in the world because we support the rights of the individual. We are not collectivists, like the Chinese or Europeans. We do not sacrifice individual rights for a hypothetical benefit of the majority. We find solutions that empower the individual to be his brother's keeper. We do have a problem with gun violence in this country, yet banning certain types of rifles and magazines is a well-intended yet dangerous gesture. Today, "assault weapons" are banned. Next year, handguns. Ten years from now, all firearms. What will we tell our grandchildren when a tyrant comes into power in the United States and attempts to utilize a national crisis to abolish the constitution completely, and imprison all dissenters?
    We may be the reigning superpower today, yet economics, politics, and logistics can combine to bring a nation to its knees, ( the U.S.S.R. for instance),and therefore place it at the mercy of the dominant geopolitical powers that be. Again, what will we say to future generations, who, thanks to our generation, have no means to defend their persons and their homes, if and when our armed forces can no longer protect us?
    We need better mental health support and services.
    We need a way to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
    The tragedy in Connecticut was a result of irresponsible storage of firearms, where they were stored in such a way that a person known to suffer psychological distress and episodes of violent, irrational behavior had easy access to them. We cannot continue to blame our laws and our society when individuals are clearly to blame for a problem. We cannot legislate our way to a utopia, free of crime and violence and madness.
    I am not a policy expert; however, I do understand one important fact: an ambiguously worded assault weapons ban, or legislation which allows the government to arbitrarily grant or deny permission for all firearms purchases, is a treacherous attack on our 2nd amendment rights.
    Our right to bear arms is truly a gift, an unparalleled freedom to defend oneself and one's family, coworkers, and fellow citizens from violent attack. Law abiding citizens who are mentally and tactically competent in regards to the safe and proper possession and carry of firearms do not deserve to have their rights infringed upon simply because madmen fall through the cracks. I agree that we do need an honest discussion about firearm violence. However, further limiting my access, and my fellow veterans' access, to commonly possessed semiautomatic firearms or typical 30 round magazines, will not begin to solve our problem.
    This is a cultural, social, and political problem within our country. There is no simple answer. I implore you to support any efforts to prevent firearm violence, so long as it does not empower those who would infringe upon or abolish the 2nd amendment. There must be a way to promote public safety without alienating millions of law abiding citizens. Please respect the rights for which our soldiers fight to the death to protect.
    We are not Australians, we are not British, we are not the Chinese communists. We are the United States of America, and our belief in individual freedom is the sole substance by which we derive our mandate to lead the free world.
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