Just a few years ago, General David Petraeus was a highly respected military leader; the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, and later serving as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Sorrowfully, human foibles undid the Great Man -- shamed and prosecuted for revealing classified national security information during an affair with his biographer.
Now, rather than atoning for his betrayal by standing up for the Constitution he swore to defend and the men and women of the Armed Services he failed by violating his oath, the disgraced general is doubling-down on his poor judgement. Petraeus has joined forces with gun-control Leftists, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Astronaut-turned-activist Michael Kelly, and launched yet another gun control advocacy organization.
The Petraeus-Kelly group calls itself the “Veterans Coalition for Common Sense.” However, as with other gun control groups, it is long on misleading rhetoric and painfully short on common sense. The only apparent difference between this new group and earlier gun control organizations, is the veneer about helping veterans; and this is misleading at best and downright harmful to many veterans at worst.
For example, while the group claims to be interested in reducing the suicide rate for veterans, it quickly pivots into the familiar gun-control mantra about keeping guns out of the hands of “dangerous people” – a non-sequitur it attempts to bridge merely by pointing out the truism that veterans know “first-hand the incredible power of firearms.”
Petraeus’ resume, spanning leadership roles in both military and national security settings, could have provided him with a platform from which to do real good for veterans; on public safety issues as well as those involving health care. After all, who better to take up the cause of reforming the broken Veterans Administration, which arguably is responsible in some measure for suicide rates among veterans?
Perhaps of even greater relevance in the wake of the mass shooting this week in Orlando -- who better understands the threat posed by ISIS and other Islamic terrorists and how to meet that threat, than the man who oversaw the very war against those terrorists in their “homeland?”
Yet, sadly, Petraeus took the easier path of joining the chorus of liberal do-gooders who fear and misunderstand the role firearms play in the natural right to self-preservation. His approach reflects more a philosophy of retreat in the face of danger, rather than of self-reliance and initiative.
Fundamentally, the principle around which the Petraeus group has concocted its mission has nothing to do with keeping guns out of the hands of evil individuals, much less preventing a mass shooting like that in Orlando. Petraeus’ “solution” fails to articulate the deeper, true nature of what we face. The tragedy in Orlando was as much as a clash of ideologies as it is a terrorist attack; actually, two clashes of ideologies.
The more obvious of the two clashes is that of freedom versus religious tyranny (a conflict well-known to true students of American history). The concept of personal liberty at the foundation of the United States is antithetical to the crushing tyranny of radical Islam. What we witnessed in Orlando is a stark reminder of the unbridgeable chasm between these two world views; a reminder seemingly lost on Petraeus.
The other clash is between individual responsibility -- the obligation to defend oneself -- and reliance on others to protect you -- passivity. This clash is something we routinely see in government efforts to limit the ability of individuals to defend themselves with a firearm – a limitation now championed by groups like Petreaus’. We also see this defeatist ideology reflected in companies and businesses that prohibit people from defending themselves when they enter those establishments.
This ideology of passivity invites incidents such as occurred in Orlando; where an individual (or individuals, in the case of the San Bernardino shooting) intent on mayhem, know that such facilities offer a concentration of unarmed victims in an environment in which they – the terrorist(s) – are able to maintain a high degree of control.
Indeed, there is no more protected of environments for such cowards than those that essentially guarantee a disarmed and fearful universe of victims -- relying not on self-defense as a response, but on waiting for the authorities to arrive and take action (which, as we saw in Orlando, may take literally hours).
Until our nation’s leaders, and we as a society, recognize the obligation we have at a personal level to ensure our own self-preservation, terrorists and other criminals will use this passivity against us with ruinous consequences. Gen. Petraeus is not helping us, and his timing could not be worse.
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