Gun violence issues more complex than the good, the bad and the mad
America:Both sides of the gun debate use the same horrific incidents to support their arguments
That the killing of decorated navy seal sniper Chris Kyle at a Texas gun range can be used to support the arguments both of proponents and opponents of the Obama administration’s proposed changes to gun laws illustrates the complexity of the most divisive debate in US public life.
The National Rifle Association’s bizarre response to the Newtown child massacre in Connecticut – that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun – would appear to have been blown away by the circumstances of Kyle’s murder last Saturday. Yet pro-gun lobbyists use this tragedy to argue that it supports their case that the problem is not guns but the mentally ill perpetrators carrying them.
Ex-marine Eddie Ray Routh (25) has been charged with the murder of Kyle (38) and the former navy seal’s friend and fellow veteran Chad Littlefield (25). Routh’s family has said that he suffered from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a seven-month tour of Iraq in 2007. He had been in and out of veteran hospitals and clinics over a two-year period as his mental health deteriorated. Police detained him in September after he threatened to kill his parents and himself in a row over a gun.
Devil of Ramadi
Kyle, a survivor of four tours in Iraq, was known as the Devil of Ramadi for his killing proficiency in combat; he was credited with 160 confirmed kills over a decade in combat. His revered status was confirmed with military medals and a best-
selling book on his exploits, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal US Sniper in US Military History.
After leaving the navy in 2009, Kyle set up a security company with friends. Its motto was “Despite what your momma told you, violence does solve problems”. He offered handgun-training to teachers; he was said to be a member of the “guns don’t kill, people kill” school in support of gun ownership. He helped war veterans try to overcome post-traumatic stress.
This was why Routh’s mother apparently contacted Kyle. The former sniper had thought that target practice at a gun range 80km (50 miles) southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, would help Routh.
Police said Routh shot Kyle and Littlefield multiple times at about 3.30pm last Saturday and fled in Kyle’s $40,000 (€29,900) Ford pick-up truck. Shortly before he was apprehended, Routh admitted to his sister and brother-in-law that he killed the two men , telling them he “traded his soul for a new truck”, according to police records detailing his arrest.