Gun violence has become one of the greatest challenges facing the United States, acting as a stark, polarizing topic of contention and true threat to innocent civilians in every state and community. With the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States taking place earlier this month, more groups are beginning to speak out against the nation's current set of laws and regulations that govern the sale of weapons, most notably assault rifles like the one used in Orlando.
"Service members are advocating gun reforms."
The Los Angeles Times reported that the attacks in Newtown, Connecticut, and Blacksburg, Virginia, marked the third and second largest mass shootings in history, respectively, taking place within the past 10 years alone. With more public outcry for reforms and a variety of organizations mobilizing to force the issue on Capitol Hill, service members – both active and retired – are also scaling up their efforts to catalyze change in legislation.
Military steps up
The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense, which was launched just two days before the mass shooting in Orlando, is working to advocate for reforms in the federal government. According to the news provider, the group was formed by some of the more decorated veterans living today, including former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal, Admiral Eric Olson, who achieved the first four-star rank for a Navy SEAL, and the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency General David Petraeus.
The group seeks to encourage common-sense legislation regarding gun sales and relevant background checks in hopes of stifling the current cycle of regular killings, which resulted in the deaths of roughly 33,000 civilians in 2015 alone, the source affirmed. The biggest qualm from the group appears to be against the National Rifle Association.
"Policymakers should know that they're not alone when they stand up to the NRA – they'll have all of us behind them," U.S. Navy veteran and coalition advisory committee member Shawn VanDiver told the Christian Science Monitor. "My name might not carry much weight, but Gen. Petraeus, Gen. McChrystal, they do."
The news provider also cited research from the Global Strategy Group that found 91 percent of veterans support mandatory background checks and nearly 60 percent would approve of a complete ban on assault weapons.
Veterans are invaluable leaders
This is far from the first time veterans have stepped up to protect civilians far from the battlefield, right here at home. Groups formed by and comprising active and retired service members have been fighting for a range of causes throughout the past several decades. One, Veterans For Peace, took part in a demonstration to support two other organizations and protest New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's June 5 executive order that has been widely received as an attack on First Amendment rights.
With continued support from the military, advocacy groups will remain active in fighting for the rights of American civilians.