The View From Afghanistan: The Dark Stain Of American Gun Exceptionalism

The Long March
Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, after a shooter opened fire on the campus.
Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Associated Press

I fear American gun culture isn’t cancer, it’s late-stage CTE—that is, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that results from repeated blows to the head.


During my current deployment, nearly 100 people have been slaughtered in the United States, many of them children, a number more befitting a war zone than an ostensibly advanced society. I have good reason to fear more for my daughter’s safety in her daycare than my own safety in Afghanistan. 

The headlines have been especially uncomfortable since I’m one of only a few Americans in a diverse international office. As the media coverage of Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, the Newtown anniversary, and now Parkland has unfolded, I have repeatedly been asked why these shootings happen and if they might ever be stopped. My response is shame and, often, defeat. I see their thoughts in their expressions: Americans sacrifice our children to our guns. Newtown wasn’t enough. 

What possible treatment is there? Each additional blow unleashes hideous new symptoms of conspiracy theorizing and ideological retrenchment. We are damned by our condition, certainly morally and possibly existentially. The causal factor is written into our national DNA, in what may yet prove to be a fatal congenital condition. I have to resist telling my colleagues to understand the shootings as symptoms of a degenerative disease, exceptionalism’s darkest strain, one of our last remaining values on display to the world.

‘Luke’ is an Air Force officer currently on his seventh deployment.

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Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".

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Jones will feel out a room before using the line. For nearly a decade, Jones, 33, has told his story to thousands of people, given motivational speeches to NFL teams and acted alongside a three-time Academy Award-winning actor.

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It took about 20 minutes, but Jones started to get more comfortable as the room warmed up to him. A student asked about how he deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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