What Is Behind Growing US Servicemen Suicide Rates? – OpEd


By Vladimir Gladkov

It seems that American arms manufacturers are facing a new rival given a recent decision by the Pentagon and the Congress to consider introducing control of US servicemen’s hand arms.

The decision was prompted by the fact that almost half of suicides among US soldiers are committed with the help of personal weapons. As was expected, the move has already provoked a wide public outcry in the US, our political commentator says.

United States
United States

Judging by the development of American arms legislation over the past couple of years, arms makers have long turned into something of a “sacred cow” in the US. Despite an ever-increasing number of mass murderers using firearms in the country, politicians do not dare to damage big business’ interests yet. In this sense, the conservative Republicans supporting arms giants is only natural, while the Democrats turning a blind eye to the problem certainly raises eyebrows, our political commentator says, singling out President Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his promises.

In this regard, little has changed since 1999, when two armed teenagers killed 13 people in a shooting spree at Columbine High School, a massacre that paradoxically led to easing US legislation on the regulation of arms sales inside the country. US arms lobby’s persistent efforts finally resulted in the adoption of a law according to which any person, including former criminals and mentally ill people, is allowed to openly purchase firearms.

A recent tragedy in Colorado once again reflected American politicians’ perennial reluctance to deal with the problem, our commentator says, citing James Holmes, the psycho who killed 12 people and wounded 58 others at a movie theater in July 2012. Even the threat of a diplomatic scandal failed to prod politicians to change their approach to the matter. In this vein, it is worth quoting Mexican President Luis Calderon as saying once that a considerable part of the US-made arms is used by the Mexican Mafia.

In any case, it should be admitted that if the Pentagon finally decides to follow the war-path, arms magnates will have to face consequences. Right now, the Pentagon is launching an information program on preventing suicides, aimed at interacting with relatives of those servicemen who are currently at risk.The program specifically stipulates these relatives paying more attention to a more secure preservation of arms or even getting rid of arms on a free-will basis.

Despite the Pentagon’s assurances about the allegedly free-will nature of the program, a number of arms enthusiasts described the initiative as an attempt to introduce rules that would allow the authorities to use force when confiscating personal weapons. Also, members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) were irked with the Pentagon’s plans to compile a single database related to those US servicemen keeping hand arms at home.

Nevertheless, the latest events showed that NRA is poised for a reasonable consensus, our commentator says, referring to recent opinion polls that indicated NRA members’ push for supporting the introduction of tougher demands for potential arms buyers. Analysts predict more serious problems on the horizon in connection with the Republicans’ drive to uphold interests of arms makers. Anyhow, there is a ray of hope in terms of adopting more adequate arms sales-regulating laws in America someday, our commentator concludes, referring to the Pentagon’s latest initiative.


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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