Former directors of the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, as well as several 3- and 4-star generals and admirals have launched a new effort to control the sales of guns in the United States. The effort is certain to attract attention after last weekend’s deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. The group, which calls itself Veterans Coalition for Common Sense, is led by former CIA Director David Petraeus, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, and US Army General (ret.) Stanely McChrystal. The group’s advisory committee includes recognizable figures such as that of Admiral Eric Olson, who led US Special Operations Command from 2007 to 2011 and was the first US Navy SEAL to be appointed to four-star rank. Other advisory committee members include high-ranking veterans from every branch of the US Armed Forces, such as R. Adm. Jamie Barnett, Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney and Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Norman Seip.
The group was formally launched at a press conference in Washington, DC, on Friday, just hours before Sunday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando. The organizers of the new effort said it came out of the 120,000-member strong Veterans for Responsible Solutions, a project spearheaded by USN R. Adm. Barnett in 2013, after the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, which killed 15 people. Another group that has offered support for the new effort, and will act as its parent organization, is Americans for Responsible Solutions, a non-profit organization that promotes gun control in compliance with the US Constitution. It was founded shortly after the 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtwon, CT, which killed 28. The organization’s founders are former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, whose Congressional career was cut short in January 2011, after she and 18 other people were shot in Tucson, AZ.
During their press conference on Friday, Veterans Coalition for Common Sense leaders said each had “swore an oath to protect our Constitution and the homeland”. But they were now “asking our leaders to do more to protect our rights and save lives”, they added. The group said they aimed to encourage their elected representatives to “do more to prevent gun tragedies”, including closing legal loops on gun background checks, strengthening gun control laws more broadly, and focusing on the mental health component that appears to be part of many mass shootings. In a separate development, another former Director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, said on Monday that “an assault weapons ban makes sense, at least to me”. In an interview with news site OZY, McLaughlin said that, in his personal view, “it is way past time for an assault weapons ban”.
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