With all the talk about guns and mental health, and the post-traumatic stress syndrome of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, what better idea could one have than to grab your neighbor and take a homecoming Marine who has psychological problems out to a gun range and put a weapon in his hands.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well… he could kill you. There’s that.
The wisdom of putting powerful firearms into the hands of a man with mental issues was learned just a bit too late over the weekend by former Navy Seal and author Chris Kyle — the man known as the most prolific sniper in American military history and writer of the book “American Sniper.”
Kyle and his neighbor, Chad Littlefield, knew of a recently returned Marine who was having problems with PTSD. What better way to help a guy get his feet back under him, mentally-speaking, than to take him to a range and put gun his hands so he can shoot away some of that excess stress. After all, as they say, when you fall off a horse the best thing to do is get right back on again or you’ll be afraid for life.
Well, apparently the former Marine, identified by police as Eddie Ray Routh, wasn’t quite ready for such a big step as handling a firearm. He demonstrated this by allegedly shooting and killing both Kyle and Littlefield, stealing his truck and driving off in a brief police chase that ended up with Routh in jail, and the American Sniper and his buddy in a Texas morgue.
Kyle, credited for more kills than any other sniper in American history, was trying to help returning vets suffering from PTSD. He helped form a nonprofit that provides at-home fitness equipment for emotionally and physically wounded veterans. It’s not known whether or not giving guns to emotionally disturbed people was part of the program curriculum.
According to CNN, Kyle was an outspoken advocate for war veterans who claimed more than 150 sniper killings during his time in Iraq, which he described as a record for any American. He said insurgents placed a bounty on his head and nicknamed him “the devil.”
He leaves behind a wife and two children.
He appeared last year on the NBC reality show “Stars Earn Stripes,” in which competitors took on missions based on military exercises.
At the moment, authorities don’t know what kind of gun was used to kill the two men. They brought plenty with them to the shooting range, according to CNN. At the range, investigators found 25 to 30 weapons, including handguns, long guns and AK-47s.
Travis Cox, director of FITCO Cares, a non-profit group Kyle helped start to help fellow veterans, told the Associated Press that the former sniper and Littlefield had taken Routh to the range trying to help a veteran “who was struggling with PTSD to try to assist him, try to help him out, try to, you know, give him a helping hand and he turned the gun on both of them, killing them.”
In a statement, Cox said that Kyle served four tours of duty as a U.S. Navy SEAL. “Chris died doing what filled his heart with passion — serving soldiers struggling with the fight to overcome PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). His service, life and premature death will never be in vain. “
One is free to wonder whether taking an emotionally disturbed man to a shooting range with 25-30 deadly weapons will continue to be seen as “a good idea” by others who help those struggling with combat-related PTSD.
Or will they, perhaps, wait until someone has all his emotional and mental ducks in a row before giving him an arsenal of high-powered killing tools to choose from?
Well, this did happen in Texas.