We Need “Gun Control” at the Pentagon

Following the horrific massacres in Uvalde/Buffalo, new outcries for gun controls have emerged. “Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died,” President Biden declared over the weekend during a university commencement address. As he has said, a badly needed step is gun control — which, it’s clear from evidence in many countries, would sharply reduce gun-related deaths.

But what about “gun control” at the Pentagon?

The concept of curtailing the U.S. military’s arsenal is such a nonstarter that it doesn’t even get mentioned. Yet the annual number of deadly shootings in the United States — 19,384 at last count — is comparable to the average yearly number of civilian deaths directly caused by the Pentagon’s warfare over the last two decades.

From high-tech rifles and automatic weapons to drones, long-range missiles and gravity bombs, the U.S. military’s arsenal has inflicted carnage in numerous countries. How many people have been directly killed by the “War on Terror” violence? An average of 45,000 human beings each year — more than two-fifths of them innocent civilians — since the war began, as documentedBrown University’s Costs of War Project.

U.S. mainstream media and mainstream politics have become so militarized, that these realities are routinely not given a second thought. The Pentagon budget continues to grow year after year. Biden is proposing $813 million for fiscal year 2023. Liberals and others often complain about how gun manufacturers are making a killing in the U.S. from semiautomatic rifles and handgun sales, while weapons sales to Pentagon continue to rise for corporate war profiteers.

As William Hartung demonstrated in his Profits of War report last fall, “Since the start of the war, the Pentagon has spent more than $14 trillion. Only one-third to one half of that amount went to military contractors. A large portion of these contracts — one-quarter to one-third of all Pentagon contracts in recent years — have gone to just five major corporations: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.”

What’s more, the U.S. is the world’s leading arms exporter, accounting for 35 percent of total weapons sales — more than Russia and China combined. These arms exports by the United States have enormous consequences.

Pointing out that the Saudi-led war and blockade on Yemen “has helped cause the deaths of nearly half a million people,” a letter to Congress from 60 organizations in late April argued that “the United States must cease supplying weapons, spare parts, maintenance services, and logistical support to Saudi Arabia.”

How is it possible that many anguished commentators and concerned citizens across the country can express justified fury against gun marketers and gun-related killings when a mass shooting happens within U.S. borders, but remain silent about the need to implement meaningful gun control at Pentagon?

The civilians who have died — and are continuing to die — from use of U.S. military weapons don’t appear on American TV screens. Many lose their lives due to military operations that go unreported by U.S. media, either because mainline journalists don’t bother to cover the story or because those operations are kept secretU.S. government. As a practical matter, the actual system treats certain war victims as “unworthy” of notice.

Whatever the causal mix might be — in whatever proportions of conscious or unconscious nationalism, jingoism, chauvinism, racism and flat-out eagerness to believe whatever comforting fairy tale is repeatedly told by media and government officials — the resulting concoction is a dire refusal to acknowledge key realities of U.S. society and foreign policy.

To enhance the routine deception, we’ve been drilled into calling the nation’s military budget a “defense” budget. Congress devotes halfThe U.S. spends a majority of discretionary military spending. more on its military than the next 10 countries combined (most of those nations U.S. allies), the Pentagon operates 750 military bases overseas, and the U.S. is now conducting military operations in 85 countries.

Gun control is a great idea. For small guns. Both the small and big guns.