Reimer and Chiarelli on the troops’ guns and suicide

| December 11, 2012

For some reason, retired generals Dennis J. Reimer and Peter W. Chiarelli thought they had something important to say today in the Washington Post. They decided that we wanted to hear from them on the subject of the troops’ guns and disguised it as concern about the suicide rate;

One of the most effective measures of suicide prevention is to ask those perceived to be under duress: “Do you have a gun in your home?” If the answer is yes, we might then suggest that the individual put locks on the weapon or store it in a safe place during periods of high stress — things that any responsible gun owner should do.

Unfortunately, that potentially lifesaving action is no longer available to the military. A little-noticed provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has had the unintended consequence of tying the hands of commanders and noncommissioned officers by preventing them from being able to talk to service members about their private weapons, even in cases where a leader believes that a service member may be suicidal.

Why would a commander need to know if a soldier had a gun in their home unless it was that commander’s intention to relieve that soldier of his weapon? Because, instead of asking a soldier if he owns a gun, a commander would simply need to tell that soldier that “if” he owned a gun, perhaps he should lock it up away safely. Asking me if I own a gun would only force me to lie.

How many hypothetical circumstances do commanders present to their units in weekly safety briefings? Why not just tell the entire unit to lock their guns away safely – if safety briefings work, like commanders seem to think they do, that should be sufficient.

As we’ve discovered here, less than half of suicides committed with a gun are committed with a personal weapon. So it seems that commanders would do well to keep soldiers at risk away from their service weapons. In fact, if the statistics are to be believed, they could cut suicides in half by doing that. So why aren’t these two generals advocating for that action rather than pursuing privately owned weapons – if all that needs to be done to prevent suicides is to take weapons from the troops.

Will commanders also be asking the troops if they have a length of rope or razor blades at home? If the soldiers reply in the affirmative, will they be advised to lock their ropes and razor blades somewhere safe?

I guess it’s just easier to blame the troops’ guns than it is to just get them the treatment they deserve.

Category: Big Army, Gun Grabbing Fascists, Guns, Military issues

Comments (11)

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  1. And what about the football player who killed his buddy with a Fully Automatic Transmission Automobile? Guess this is an excellent case for banning Fully Automatic Transmission Automobiles.

  2. martinjmpr says:

    Whoever comes up with this stuff has a real misunderstanding of the relationship between a commander and his subordinates.

    A Commander who “asked” one of his soldiers if “perhaps” the soldier “ought” to lock up his guns would only lead to confusion. Is the commander ordering his soldier to lock up his guns, or is he merely suggesting it?

    The difference is significant because unlike a civilian boss, a military commander has the ability to put the force of law behind his orders.

    There is a lot of gray area when it comes to what a commander can or can’t order his soldiers to do with regard to something that is permitted by law. Commanders, of course, will argue that their reach extends to anything that can have any effect on military order or discipline but what happens when that reaches in to affect the rights of civilians who are not under the UCMJ (for example, an order by a commander to his soldiers to secure all weapons in the arms room, even those owned by soldiers who live off-post, can affect the rights of a civilian spouse who is, of course, not subject to the commander’s UCMJ authority in any way, shape or form.)

    Not related to guns, but I saw this come about when I was on active duty with 3rd SF Group (as a support guy.) We had several 18-series NCO’s who were sport skydivers get injured just prior to attending important, career-enhancing schools (ANCOC, O&I, etc) and because they were injured the group had to forfeit the slot. Finally the group commander issued an order that anybody with a confirmed slot for one of these schools was prohibited from engaging in civilian sport skydiving. The commander’s rationale was that if the troop got hurt, it would compromise the readiness of the unit overall.

    Several of the NCO’s went and started running this up the chain-of-command and it eventually got to the USASOC JAG and as I understand it, the JAG told the group commander that he couldn’t prohibit the soldiers from engaging in an otherwise lawful activity unless he could show how the activity itself – not the mere possibility of getting injured – would be prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the unit.

  3. martinjmpr says:

    ^^ Actually, I have to amend the above. What the Group commander said was that if a soldier was injured while civilian skydiving, he would classify it as a non-LOD injury and that was what the JAG told him he didn’t have the authority to do.

  4. Enigma4you says:

    Lets jut let the COs order all troops to lock up, belts, shoe laces, knives, razors, rope, zip ties, plastic bags, and drain the base pool, while they are at it lets have them institute the buddy rule for trips to the latrine or we could just insist to congress that these guys get the help they need and let them keep their dignity

  5. AtDrum says:

    Come to Fort Drum. You can now buy weapons in the PX but have to lock them up in the Arms Room if you live on post…

  6. FatCircles0311 says:

    “lock them up”: Libtard code acknowledging their hysteria that guns are actually living things that load themselves and start shooting at random people.

    Ugh, I hate Libtards.

  7. DaveO says:

    The grand high Poobahs of Political Correctness, generally BDE CDR and CSM and higher, aren’t listening to the troops about suicide.

    If a joe considers admitting s/he has suicidal thoughts shameful, why not go with that? We the taxpayers have seen the Army spend millions of dollars on touchy-feely, Dr. Phil anti-suicide programs, stand-downs, and so on. We’ve seen an explosion in suicides because the Army is essentially telling joes that suicide is just a bad thing, like a speeding ticket, or an STD.

    Go with the shame. Let the joes know their families will get nothing – no death pay, only bills for cleaning up after the suicide. No benefits, not even a grave marker or permission to be buried among comrades – even if the suicide was awarded a MOH. No Last Rites, no prayers for the dead. Let them know Breanna Manning is still a man, and still alive.

    Reimer and Chiarelli come from an era that, as policy, blamed commanders for any suicides during their command, and ended careers. Been there so I know.

  8. Bama_Redleg says:

    I’ve been a Commander, and if I thought I had an at risk soldier, I would talk to him about anything I thought was related to the risk (NDAA be damned) and I would do anything I could to keep him safe.
    Just for clarity, I own guns: many, many, guns and some that aren’t politically correct.
    However, I don’t see this as a second amendment issue. The NDAA was well meaning, to prevent registration or defacto confiscation, but it should not stop leaders from leading. Any leader that says, “I can’t talk to my soldier about this because it is against the law” is no leader.
    The generic if/then scenario gives Commanders a pass for not knowing their soldiers. “If you drink, don’t drive” is no excuse for not knowing who drinks and applying a little extra attention to their risk factors. Likewise, “If you’re married, don’t beat your wife” is no substitute for knowing who is married and who might be having relationship problems. It’s all just simple leadership.
    The law is what it is, but a real leader would lead regardless of the law.

  9. Gumshoe says:

    Current company commander here. I’m not going to forcibly take a weapon from the Soldier, but I will offer him the ability to store it in my arms room. The question is also a vehicle for me to break down the walls and get on a personal level with my guys.

    Whenever a Soldier comes to get my signature for registration, I ask them all about their weapon. If they say they go hunting, I ask them about their biggest trophy; if it’s marksmanship, what’s the shot they are most proud of… do they compete? It’s not about the gun. It’s about leaders knowing about their Soldiers and how to relate to them and possibly prevent the idea of suicide from becoming a viable option.

    Also, getting the guys out of dodge at 1700 when we aren’t doing anything mission critical raises morale like you wouldn’t believe.

  10. Twist says:

    @9, not as high as 1600 raises it.