Armed Forces News

Sixteen retired flag-rank officers have written a letter to Congress, calling for lawmakers to enact legislation that would tighten the nation’s gun laws. In the Dec. 4 letter, the 16 specifically called for Congress to:

* Close loopholes in background checks, which could inadvertently allow felons, domestic abusers, and mentally ill persons to obtain guns.
* Strengthen existing laws, and ensure that persons of authority and responsibility are properly trained in prevention of gun tragedies.
* Creating community partnerships, with the intent of preventing suicide among veterans and providing them with mental-health treatment when they need it.

The group of officers also specifically criticized the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would require all states – no matter how stringent their own laws are – to honor concealed-carry permits issued by other states.

The group of retired officers includes:

* Coast Guard Adms. Thad Allen and James M. Loy.
* Army Gens. Peter W. Chiarelli, Wesley Clark, David H. Petraeus and Stanley A. McChrystal, Michael V. Hayden, James T. Hill, and Lt. Gens. Mark Hertling, Russel Honore, and Claudia J. Kennedy.
* Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, and Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr.
* Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman R. Seip.
* Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Stephen A. Cheney.

They are acting as members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition, founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. – one of 18 persons shot during a 2011 campaign rally in her home state. Six people died in the incident. Giffords survived a gunshot wound to the face.

“We find the current level of gun violence to be unacceptable,” they wrote. “We believe there is much Congress can do to reduce gun violence without violating the Second Amendment – which we explicitly support.”

Citing the recent mass shootings in Texas and Nevada, the writers pointed out that persons in the U.S. are 25 times more likely to die by gunfire than in other developed nations.

“There is no acceptable excuse for our elected leaders to avoid addressing this as a national crisis,” they wrote. “It is past time to begin the serious discussion about what legislation is possible and feasible to reduce the gun carnage that destroys families, tears apart communities and traumatizes us all. Thoughts and prayers will not bring solutions.”