Political society

A society flooded with weapons and denial will reap more violence

Last month, as people remembered the first anniversary of the American departure from Afghanistan, my mind flashed back to August 5, 2014, when half a dozen Black Hawk helicopters lined up to drop off wounded soldiers at Bagram Airfield Hospital.

The helicopter’s rotors spun against a hazy sky as medics rushed and shouted at each other against the noise. They transported the injured to the hospital. We breathed in dirt and exhaust fumes that streaked through the air. The last helicopter in line carried the dead man.

Shortly before, a 22-year-old Afghan National Army military policeman opened fire with an M-16 rifle on a delegation of US and coalition forces during a visit to National Defense University Marshal Fahim in Kabul. Within moments, he killed one and injured 18.

The attack was a school shooting in a war zone, and it distorts the idea that more weapons and security measures will save us.

Back to school

Twice in as many weeks, I’ve heard different versions of the same sentiment: Societies insisting on easy access to weapons of war shouldn’t be surprised by the massive casualties they create.

In a meeting with the Express-News editorial board on August 25, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “The accessibility of certain firearms makes the accessibility of tragedies all the more more acute.

Then there is my interview with Dennis Kenney, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

“At the end of the day, if we want to insist that we live in a world where mass violence is easily delivered, then we should probably get used to mass violence,” he told me.

We also discussed the familiar storyline and failed calls for change after the mass shootings.

“After every round of school shootings, we know what to do, we just don’t want to do it,” he said. “And as long as we’re ready to have such a heavily armed society, I think we’re kind of destined to have those kinds of spasms.”

These conversations took place as children returned to school with no real change beyond the “security theater” of higher fences, additional cameras and more armed officers on campuses.

Around this time, the political action committee Mother’s Against Greg Abbott posted an ad depicting a mother preparing her child for the first day of school. She helps with shirt buttons, shoelaces, waistcoat and clasp. She takes a photo and shows an unsmiling boy wearing a black tactical vest and Kevlar helmet. Fade to black with the words “Our children are not soldiers”.

Sentiment is very critical of society, especially the idea that because our country cannot have a mature conversation about guns, we are forced to arm our children for an illusion of security.

Not reasonably expected

As the group of US, NATO and Afghan forces, including eight generals, stood outside during a briefing, the shooter ambushed them from a nearby bathroom window.

He fired 27 to 30 shots, killing U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene and hurting others. American and allied forces quickly returned fire and killed the shooter.

Despite the advantages of helmets, body armor, weapons, radios, briefings, planning, intelligence, security details, close protection teams, threat assessments and timely medical attention , the group still suffered massive losses. More people did not die thanks to the training, equipment and quick reactions of soldiers and medics.

According to the Army investigation, the shooting “could not have been reasonably foreseen or prevented, appearing to be an isolated act by a determined shooter without indicators or warnings.”

The words echo what we often hear after mass shootings in the United States

The compromise

We live in a society awash with weapons of war, but most of the United States lacks the layers of protection that can mitigate risk.

Each new shoot offers a reminder of this truth and rekindles the difficult questions about security and freedoms. A company of ballistic vests, tactical equipment, blast walls and bullets is not really free.

Most civilians do not wear body armor, carry weapons, or know how to use gauze to clot blood or apply tourniquets. Armed security guards do not escort us in public places. Parents do not have briefs of information and threat assessments to evaluate before sending their children to school. Medical evacuation helicopters are not always within radio range.

America cannot have it both ways, and until politicians recognize this, the cycle of gun violence will continue.

Investigations and after-action reports will tell us what we already know.

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