Chris Kyle, author of “American Sniper: The autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” and another man were murdered last night. While it took a few hours for the media to break the news, the military and warrior communities were already aware and actively attempting to assist in the apprehension of the suspect. This Ain’t Hell, a site run by Jonn Lilyea and several other veterans and a few other sites posted the news. “The purpose for this post is to get eyes on the shooter”, said Jonn Lilyea.
The first reaction in the warrior and military community was shock and dismay. This man was a decorated combat hero, a former Navy SEAL, but more importantly, he was a tireless champion of the myriad and complex issues facing the military and veteran communities. The fact he was killed at a charity event, an event being held to support those who are suffering from PTSD, is a testament to his commitment.
The second, nearly simultaneous reaction was fear of what was to come from the anti-gun crowd. While early reports indicated that the killer, who was quickly apprehended, was someone who was at the event because he is former military and suffering from PTSD, that last part has yet to be confirmed. This is the most important piece of information, the motivation of the killer, yet it is far from the focus of too many. When it is the focus, the lens through which it is viewed is so distorted, it obfuscates the real issues surrounding PTSD.
While this singular, most important question remains unanswered, the fears of some who were in on those early discussions have been sadly proven to be well founded. They eerily and accurately predicted the reaction of some anti-gun extremists, saying there are ghouls walking amongst us who will stoop to any level to further their agenda. Many examples of the proof of this would soon be found in the comments left on the Dallas Morning News story published mere hours after the tragedy.
While I am saddened and truly sick at the news of the death of someone who has done so much to help his brothers in arms, I am disgusted and infuriated by the response of these people. Never would this warrior gleefully pounce on a tragic shooting, celebrating the death of another human being. In fact, while Chris Kyle was lauded as a hero for earning the nickname “The Devil of Ramadi” by the enemy, he consistently reframed the conversation into one about the troops he was protecting, not the enemy combatants he killed. Even in war, this and all noble warriors are ever cognizant of the fact that on the other side of the battlefield are human beings who hope to someday go home to their own families.
It is nothing but appalling that a disturbing number of posters are jubliant over what they consider karma having been visited upon this man. They are saying things like, “I wonder if as he lay dying he saw the irony of knowing how it felt to have his flesh ripped apart by a piece of steel traveling at 200 feet a second”. My favorite comments are those of self-proclaimed Christians quoting Scipture, “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”. I guess the page with "Judge not lest ye be judged" is missing from their copy of the Bible. As is everything Jesus taught about compassion.
Those who are using this tragedy to further their agenda of more gun control, often with very little or no understanding of the weapons they are discussing, represent much of what is wrong with this society. Their lack of knowledge of weapons is surpassed only by their lack of undertanding of what PTSD is, and is not. Their arguments are so convoluted and off the mark I'm not able to even summarize them. I simply can't wrap my head around how this murder of someone who worked so very hard to bring to light the dire need of more awareness, more understanding and treatment for those with PTSD can be so twisted.
Do these ghouls celebrate when a psychologist is killed by their patient? This is an apt analogy of this situation; Chris Kyle reached out to and attempted to help those who are suffering from one of the least understood mental health conditions, PTSD. It isn't karma that someone who may have been suffering from this killed him. It is sad and tragic. And it is certainly not cause for gleeful exploitation and the furtherance of the anti-gun position.
The warrior community has been making great strides in de-stigmatizing this issue but the fear that all combat veterans will be considered dangerous is justified by the comments of these extremist gun control advocates. Those who need help most will now be even less likely to seek it for fear of that diagnosis being used against them, to strip them of the rights they fought, bled, and watched their brothers in arms die to ensure. Saying everyone who was in combat suffers from PTSD and everyone who suffers from PTSD is a danger to himself and others is not only false logic, it stigmatizes and marginalizes every veteran in this country. Worse, it guarantees any progress on this issue will be undermined, if not reversed.
We don’t know if the accused killer, Eddie Ray Routh was in fact diagnosed or being treated for PTSD. We don’t know what his motivations were. As long as this tragedy is allowed to be hijacked to support the anti-gun agenda, we won’t know. And that is how this tragedy will be multiplied. Instead of using it as a call for awareness, treatment and understanding of PTSD, those with no moral compunctions will be allowed to dance on the grave of an American Hero.
Chris Kyle, you have done your time in Hell. I pray you rest easy at the side of Archangel Michael. To this hero’s family, please know that every civilized heart breaks for you over your loss.