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A Veteran's Perspective on Gun Violence
By Thomas Bayard
What a lovely coincidence that the VVAW "Call for Articles" appeared the same morning as my local paper ran several articles on gun control in Delaware. The main focus of the articles was having a mayor, a county executive, and several legislators with concealed carry permits who are pushing for "more and better" gun control in our state.
The articles were written entirely without irony. It is as if none of the reporters could see the falsity of gun control positions of people who carry guns themselves — along with most of our local criminals — want to dictate to the rest of us how we may protect ourselves with guns of our own. It all reminds me of spotting VC running around in the middle of Long Binh on the first day of Tet and not being able to shoot at them, because "You may not fire without a direct order!" And who is around to give the order? Or permit combat veterans to have a gun?
I think that most Vietnam veterans are not being swayed one way or the other by the gun control arguments commonly out there these days. We all have had real, defining experiences with violence — and with guns. We may feel different now, and even take anti-gun positions on the question, but there is no way to separate us from our experiences. Most of us are not ready to rush right back into armed violence, but we know what it is like, as most of the anti-gun people do not. What all of us can probably agree on is that we don't want inexperienced people dictating to us. The one thing that we all know for sure is that they, the anti-gun people, do not generally know what they are pontificating about.
I dread the possibility of needing to use a gun to defend myself, my family, or my household, but I will grit my teeth and follow my training and experience if and when that day comes. "Gun violence," as it is always named these days, is really just violence perpetrated by someone who doesn't care how they behave or who they hurt. They could use a speeding car. They could use a baseball bat. They could use a kitchen knife. Or they could use a gun. The result could likely be the same. Some people, or nations, even use armed drones which do not carry guns. Are they OK to use, because they don't have guns mounted on them? Think about it: it isn't the guns, it is the violence.
Thomas Bayard was assigned to the 66th ENGR CO, TOPO 9/67. The 66th was in the middle of the Tet Offensive, and all its REMF's learned on the fly how to be combat troopers. Bayard was a Process Photographer in the 66th and has continued his photography since then. His daughter works with IVAW in the San Francisco area and is on the WRL National Committee.