Since the Aurora, Colorado shooting I have been involved in many heated debates centered on gun control, more specifically when someone says that only military and police should be allowed to have guns. This thinking is extremely naive and the events of this past Sunday should prove that. In these debates I have stated that just because you are in the U.S. military does not mean that you should be able to have a firearm. Wade Michael Page is proof of this. Many will probably accuse me of being unpatriotic or anti-American for writing this, but that is not the truth. I am simply pointing out the obvious: that our military is not perfect.
When Wade Page went on a shooting spree in the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, he sadly proved my point. Page was an Army veteran that served from 1992 to 1998 before he was "honorably" discharged. The reason the Army gave for his discharge was a "pattern of misconduct". Of course the Army doesn't really clarify what that means, but after the information obtained after Page killed six Sikh worshippers, we really don't need any. Pictures of Page playing a guitar in front of a giant Nazi flag soon surfaced. His band, End Apathy, has been revealed to be a white power punk band. An ex-Army buddy of the shooter has come out saying that Page had often talked about a coming "race war". This man was part of our armed forces. This same man who would go on to kill five men and one woman because they were of a different color or religion.
And don't think this is an isolated case. There have been U.S. military personnel who have been charged and convicted of murdering innocent civilians in Afghanistan. Videos have been uncovered such as that of the helicopter shooter using civillians as target practice and the one showing U.S. Marines urinating on the dead bodies of suspected insurgents, smiling all the while. You can even count this alarming trend statistically. My hometown of El Paso, which is home to Ft. Bliss(Page briefly served here in the 90s), was the safest city in the United States a few years ago. This is no small feat considering our sister city happens to be the Mexican city of Juarez, the most dangerous city in the world. Our safety numbers have been diminishing since we were named the safest city, but not due to the Mexican drug cartels' war, but because we have been gaining more and more military personnel stationed at Ft. Bliss.
This is not new to El Paso. In the late 90s the Army brought many members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs to the border city. The Northeast side of El Paso, where most military personnel live, is the most dangerous part of the city, primarily because of these street gangs. Latin street gangs and Neo-Nazi gangs have also been transplanted here. The more and more military that gets stationed here, the more the crime rate goes up. I am not talking about theft or drunken driving either, I am talking about violent crime. The first homicide of the year here was the shooting of a soldier. The shooter was also a soldier. One of the most publicized crimes of last year was the killing of a teen by a soldier. Both were suspected of having gang connections.
Don't get me wrong, not all soldiers behave like this. In my life I have had the privilege of meeting many great men and women who serve our country, and I salute them for their courage and sacrifice. Hell, many of my family members are veterans. My cousin's husband is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and you could never meet a nicer man. My father and uncle were both U.S. Marines. Another one of my uncles is currently in a mental institution because of the horrors of the Vietnam War. My cousin served in the Air Force and spent most of his military career in Iraq. Believe me, I have major respect for the military, but people like Wade Page brings dishonor on our military and our country. Our armed forces need to screen people before allowing them to join, otherwise we are just showing the wrong people how to shoot. We are supplying these criminals with automatic weapons. We are jeopardizing innocent people abroad, and just as the shooting in Wisconsin has proven, the innocent people here at home.