By Norman Solomon
Stringent “background checks” are central to many proposals for curbing gun violence. The following is a background check on the nation’s largest buyer of firearms:
The applicant, U.S. Pentagon, seeks to purchase a wide variety of firearms in vast quantities. This background check has determined that the applicant has a long history of assisting individuals, organizations and governments prone to gun violence.
Pentagon has often served as an active accomplice or direct perpetrator of killings on a mass scale. During the last 50 years, the applicant has directly inflicted large-scale death and injuries in numerous countries, among them the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan (partial list). Resulting fatalities are estimated to have been more than 5 million people.
For purposes of this background check, special attention has been necessarily focused on the scope of firearms currently sought by Pentagon. They include numerous types of semi-automatic and fully automatic rifles as well as many other assault weapons. Continuing purchases by the applicant include drones and cruise missiles along with the latest models of compatible projectiles and matching explosives.
Notable on Pentagon’s shopping list is the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. This “bunker buster” weapon -- with a weight of 30,000 pounds, set for delivery by a B-2 stealth bomber -- is for prospective use in Iran.
While considering the likely outcomes of authorizing Pentagon to purchase such large-scale assault weapons, past lethal recklessness should be viewed in context of present-day mindset. A meaningful background check must include a current psychological profile.
Despite the abundant evidence of massive carnage made possible by past Pentagon acquisitions of firearms and other weapons, the applicant is unrepentant. This indicates that the applicant is sociopathic -- unwilling to acknowledge, let alone express any semblance of remorse for, pain and suffering inflicted on human beings.
The unrepentant character of Pentagon is reflected in continued use of the alias “Department of Defense.” This background check strongly indicates the prevalence of a highly functional yet psychically numbed institutional personality disorder, with reflexive denial and perennial insistence on claiming victim status even while victimizing others.
In addition, Pentagon has used guns of all types to fire on countless civilians including young people. The ongoing threat to children posed by weapons in the hands of the applicant, therefore, is grave.
Grim evidence emerged with the unauthorized release of the “Collateral Murder” video three years ago by WikiLeaks. That video, filmed in 2007 in the district of New Baghdad, showed a callous disregard for human life as 30 mm cannon fire from Apache helicopters caused the deaths of nearly a dozen Iraqi adults while wounding two children.
In a deeply sociopathic mode, Pentagon -- rather than expressing remorse or taking action to prevent such tragedies in the future -- has sought retribution against those shedding light on many of such terrible actions. Pentagon has subjected whistleblower Bradley Manning to protracted inhumane treatment and relentless prosecution. By sharp contrast, in the last few days alone, tens of thousands of people have expressed their admiration, love and support by signing an online letter to Thank Bradley Manning.
Meanwhile, Pentagon is seeking approvals for items ranging from new firearms to F-35 jet fighters, recently dubbed by Time magazine “the costliest weapons program in human history.”
Even a cursory background check on the applicant must conclude that augmenting Pentagon’s vast stockpile of guns and other weapons would be unconscionable.
If background checks are to be a meaningful tool for curbing gun violence, they must apply to individuals and institutions alike, without fear or favor.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.