Retired Army general: ‘We have a gun problem in America’

WASHINGTON — Leaders from D.C. and other big U.S. cities are dealing with a spike in violent crime this year, including gun crimes. And a retired military man who has been hailed as a hero, is speaking out about the issue.

“We have a gun problem in America and we are in a state of denial,” says retired U.S. Army General Russel Honore. In 2005 he commanded Joint Task Force Katrina, the federal disaster response to Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.

“We’ve got too many guns on the street and in the hands of the wrong people,” he tells WTOP.

Honore says gun violence is not getting the attention it deserves: “We have compartmentalized street crime in the neighborhoods, and it (only) becomes national news if it’s considered to be a mass murder, a hate crime or has some terrorist nexus. That is disturbing to me.”

Honore says these days you can’t even talk about gun control without having a yelling match with Second Amendment supporters. “We have to have an adult conversation, and our politicians are going to have to speak about the unspeakable.”

But Lars Dalseide, with the National Rifle Association, says public opinion about gun control in America appear to have changed.

“A recent study by the Pew Research Center saw that more people are in favor of gun rights.  And if that wasn’t the case, then you’d have to wonder why, in 2014 with the midterm election, over 90 percent of the NRA-endorsed candidates won federal office.”

Dalseide also says we need to keep the current reported levels of crime in perspective. “The FBI Uniform Crime Report says that the firearm homicide rate has dropped 50 percent in the last 20 years.”

Honore points out that while many people are being treated for mental health issues, “We don’t have a database that would prevent them from legally acquiring a gun.”

“We can all agree that the adjudicated mentally ill who are a danger to themselves or others should not have access to firearms,” Dalseide says.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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