Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 of our first graders were slaughtered with an AR-15-style rifle, I have pondered despairingly how long it would take for America to put an end to the killing generated by these weapons of war. I very briefly had hope that the massacre of our little ones would bring us to our senses, spurring Congress to pass commonsense legislation, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons—those massively lethal weapons of mass destruction.
I spent my entire professional life taking up arms in defense of our country, serving in wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan, and ending my service as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I saw how our ground forces and special forces sought to improve the precision and lethality of their weapons, which took enemy lives and saved their own. Such is the nature of war.
But these weapons are for war; they are not for sport. Assault weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time possible. As the tragic events last week in El Paso and Dayton attest, these weapons make it virtually impossible for law-enforcement agencies to stop those bent on taking lives. In Dayton, heroic officers responded within 30 seconds, and yet the shooter still killed nine people.