Veterans Commit Mass Shootings At An Alarming Rate. Why?

Analysis
A memorial for the victims of the shooting at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church includes 26 white chairs, each painted with a cross and and rose, placed in the sanctuary, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay

On Nov. 5, a former airman with a criminal background killed 26 people at a church in the Texas town of Sutherland Springs. The shooter, Devin P. Kelley, was armed with a Ruger AR-15 variant. The Air Force’s failure to alert the FBI to Kelley’s domestic assault convictions had allowed him to legally purchase the weapon and several others after he was booted out of the service in 2014 with a bad-conduct discharge. In 2012, a court-martial sentenced Kelley to 12 months in confinement for brutally beating his wife and toddler step-son. His shooting rampage was the deadliest mass public shooting in Texas history. Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after wrecking his car while being chased by two samaritans, one of whom was also armed with a gun.  


Kelley is one of numerous veterans who have carried out massacres on American soil since Charles Whitman, a Marine Corps veteran, shot 17 people to death from atop the University of Texas Tower on Aug. 1, 1966, an event generally viewed as the first in a scourge of mass public shootings — defined as “the killing of four or more people in a public place without a connection to drug deals, gang disputes or other underlying criminal motive,” according to The Washington Post — that have rocked the country with increasing frequency and bigger death tolls over the years. As anthropologist Hugh Gusterson noted in The New York Times last year, more than a third of the 43 worst mass killings in the United States between 19842016 were perpetrated by veterans, though vets never exceeded 13% of the population during that period.

How do we explain this statistic? And can more be done to mitigate gun violence in America? Adam Linehan, Patrick Baker, Jack Mandaville, and Adam Weinstein enter The Warzone to hash it out.

Download episode 20 of The Warzone, “Gun Control" on iTunes. Also, subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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If you have questions or feedback for Task & Purpose Radio: The Warzone, send it over to editor@taskandpurpose.com.

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

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Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

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A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

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Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

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Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Oscar Temores and his family. (GoFundMe)

When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.

Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.

"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."

That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.

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