I have a memory that occasionally floats its way back to the front of my thoughts. Today, as I looked at the news of the two mass murders, acts of terrorism, I couldn’t help snapping back to the summer of 2008. I don’t remember exactly what we were doing or why, but I do remember that we were on a patrol. I was in the turret of one of our vehicles. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of sitting behind a machine gun and chain smoking your boredom away, I can tell you that the mundane action of patrolling Iraq is a great way of freeing up mental space for random thoughts and philosophical discussions between vehicles on the radio.
One day, as I sat there turning the turret back and forth in my section of coverage, I noticed something that had never really crossed my mind before. Just on the other side of the road passed a convoy of Iraqi police trucks, filled with officers sitting in the bed of the pickup while another man stood on the mounted machine guns of their own vehicles. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this particular patrol convoy passing us. I think that is what made it stand out to me. Every Iraqi police patrol looked like an extension of the army. Every pickup they used had a mounted gun. Every officer I saw carried an AK. Police “stations”, as we know them, were more like patrol bases that were fitted with razor wire serpentines, guard towers, and concrete walls riddled with bullet holes. This was normal.
I don’t know why this thought passed through my head as I watched the patrol drive by, but I immediately had a sense that I never wanted that type of environment to find its way to the U.S. I remember thinking, “not at home.”
I can’t help but feel that this thought process was futile as we move further into 2019. The natural progression is that police will need to carry more powerful weapons in order to break through armor. As more of our country becomes militarized, there is no way around it. I would like to note that by militarized, I don’t just mean with weapons. Many online locations sell much in the way of tactical gear; Kevlar vests, plate carriers, assortments of camo, survival gear, military manuals, etc. Our country has a fascination with all things war. Combined with an easy access to military supplies and dangerous ideologies, and we are now headed for a future where police more closely resemble soldiers on patrol.
Americans find ways of blaming all sorts of entities for these events. One side often claims mental health, the other claims guns. However, you can’t blame mental health when there is a growing population who look more like preppers than gun enthusiasts. You also can’t just blame guns. Guns are tools of war, yes. They are designed for one purpose. I am not naïve in this assumption. Guns are to kill. Cars are to drive. That is not even a logical argument. However, our primal nature is to kill. Everything on earth is trying to kill to survive. Assault weapons allow for killing on mass scales. This is also true. But, we must ask ourselves the question of why do people feel the need to own those types of weapons? Why would I want to possess my own weapons designed for war? War Culture. We are in love with war. It’s the basis for the entire American creation mythology. So why wouldn’t you want to be like your heroes?
My argument is simple. Until we address the warrior culture mythology, which fosters our love of all things tactical and military, the idea of getting rid of assault weapons is a joke. New gun laws will take decades to have proper efficacy due to the vast number of weapons already available. In effect, it is imperative that we face the issues head on. War culture, American mythology, constitutional religiosity and dogmatism, white supremacy, and the list goes on.