“If they mean to do harm to myself or my family, I’ll do anything I can to prevent them from doing it. If it means taking their life, fu(k ’em. They’ve chosen their path.” That’s the answer Josh, an Operation Enduring Freedom sniper, offers when asked when it’s OK to take a life outside the military. Lonnie, a Vietnam infantryman, however figures killing is never justified away from the battlefield. Those are just two of the takes on killing and its effects from people who know – veterans who’ve done it . . .

Read the comments here and at other sites and you’ll see no end of pronouncements as to the writers’ readiness to pull the trigger in defense of kith and kin. Civilian disarmament types, of course, consider them bloodthirsty keyboard commandos…or worse. As this video shows, no matter how justified the situation may have been, killing has real and profound effects on the killer. Gun owners carry in the fervent hope that we never have to use the tool on our hips. Videos such as this are a clear illustration as to why.

[h/t funker530.com]

 

 

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42 Responses to In ‘On Killing’ Video, Veterans Talk About Killing Both On and Off the Battlefield

  1. I am a reasonable person with a reasonable mind. I have not been presented with such a choice, but have considered it deeply every single day that I have carried. My decision is made and I am prepared to live with whatever consequences follow. I have no compunctions with using whatever tools are necessary to keep myself and my loved ones safe. But I will not extend that effort to other adults in need. That’s their problem and their responsibility. For them I will use my cell phone as a tool.

    • “But I will not extend that effort to other adults in need. That’s their problem and their responsibility. ”
      I sleep just fine with all the people I have killed. I don’t skip a wink for them. But I don’t think I could get out of bed and face the world without shame if I had your attitude.

  2. Not sure if it’s their age, or a generational difference, or the nature of the conflict in which they fought, or the fact that an all-volunteer army self-selects a different type/breed of man than that which typifies a conscript army that results in the Vietnam guys being more torn, confused, philosophical and generally more damaged looking.

    • Check out the book “On Killing” (unrelated to this video afaik) which extensively examines this issue in general and as it pertained specifically to Vietnam.

    • Vietnam vets were fighting a much more uncertain war than that sniper (aka Mr “war is awesome”) fighting in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan our technology utterly dominated and soldiers like him lived in relative certainty that they’d make it home alive and in once piece.

      The real mind fuck of war comes in having to to see both sides of the killing.

      • “In Afghanistan our technology utterly dominated and soldiers like him lived in relative certainty that they’d make it home alive and in once piece. ”
        What dominating technology do you speak of? Do you assume or rifles and small arms were so superior that they were dominating? M4 vs AK47 wasn’t the fight. It was M4 vs PKM, RPK, and RPG. Was it air assets that dominated the battlefield? 40 minutes in southern Afghanistan was the best response time from a fast mover we ever got, and by then it was worthless. Artillery dominance? Arty in much of Afghanistan doesn’t exist. Ah, maybe it’s the uparmored HMMWVs and MRAPS? I’ve been blown up in 3 of them (plus a 7 ton). Oh, night vision? It’s awesome. They have it too. And you don’t need it under a full moon.
        Technology dominance? Assured to come home? During my two tours there, that was certainly not the case.

    • I think it has a lot to do with age. When a person gets older they probably have a deeper appreciation for life in general. But older guys may also be more prone to shoot your ass because they can’t fight as well as they used to be able to do. These guys are recounting not just the killing, but the overall affect of war.

  3. It is the blood thirsty who surround themselves with armed guards and disarm law abiding people. They see no problem with blood flowing in the streets or in the homes of innocent unarmed people.

  4. I’ve said it a number of times here before. If I can live out the rest of my life and never do violence to another person again, I’ll be happy. But do not mistake my quest for peace as a sign of weakness.

    The difference between vets and non vets that have not been “tried” is that we know what we are able to do. We have been pushed to the edge and we know how we will respond when the shtf cause we’ve had to do it before.

    All the stateside training. Force on force. Paintball. All of it leaves out the most important component. None of it is life or death.

    I hope, sincerely, that none of you have to face that moment in your edc lives.

    • “We have been pushed to the edge and we know how we will respond when the shtf cause we’ve had to do it before.”
      Nailed it. “I have…” will always be more impressive than “I would…”

  5. As an armed American I too consider this frequently. I spent my time in the Army, although not in combat. I served in the 80’s with many senior NCOs who were Viet Nam vets and we discussed this sort of thing. War or not war, the important thing is to know in your heart, based on logic and facts, that the action you are attempting to stop with potentially deadly violence is antithetical to liberty and personal freedom.

    I hope I never need to use my pistol to defend myself or others, but I more strongly hope that if I do I will have correctly identified the target as someone who has made a choice to live outside the protection of civil society and deserves what comes to him.

    I felt particularly bad for the man in the video who was unable to differentiate between combatants in a war. For whatever reasons each side at some level believes themselves to be in the right in what they do. But if your intention in war is just to murder people and take what is theirs for your own use you are nothing but a criminal and THAT is what separates the opposing sides. Even the Soviet Union, as bad as they were criminally to their own people, were completely justified in the retribution they meted out to Nazi Germany.

    Without a good understanding of the ethics of what your are engaged in, of course you will have doubts about what you may have to do. Bottom line, “Some people just need to die.”

  6. As a hunter, I feel some remorse in killing a deer or rabbit for food. I hope and pray that I never have to take a human life, but if the situation comes up where I have to protect myself or my family, I will kill the attackers. And I am sure I will feel some remorse in having had to do so, but it will pass when I see my lovely wife smiling at me, saved from harm. And if I fail to save her, I will have the solace of knowing I died next to her attempting to protect what I love.

  7. I saw a shipmate killed less than 25′ from me when our ship got hit by North Korean shore batteries. I relive that moment many times. I have a real hatred towards people who harm others, just for the the thrill of it, such as a mugger who shoots both the husband, and his wife for no reason.
    I would not hesitate in the slightest to shoot someone who intends my family, or my self. If more folks would “step up to the plate” and learn how to shoot and defend themselves, we would have a lot less crime!

  8. I wonder if the bad guys ever experience this sort of conscientious torture. For example, the three savages who killed the pastor’s wife in Indy, do you think that they paused for moral reflection?

    Within the difference between those who conscientiously reflect and those who do not is found my explanation for violence in defense. There are good guys and there are bad guys.

    I also wonder about the tortured conscience of someone who could have stopped a violent, evil aggressor but who instead stood by without acting.

  9. Is killing people who are trying to kill you really that morally terrifying? I mean, to me, no one other than my family has a higher priority to live. Behind them, it’s myself. Anyone stepping in the way of our lives, I will terminate the threat, 223, 45, blades, fists, I don’t care what I have to use or how I use them on whom. In a world with 7 billion people, we have no lack of humans. I refuse to feel bad for anyone threatening me or my family. They asked for it. And their family gotta pay the price too, for their gene messing with me, by suffering the loss of the person I ballistically ventilated. Is it because I’ve never been in a deadly encounter that I have such resolve? I understand the emotional trauma of a gunfight. I just can’t foresee myself feeling sorry for killing the perp that tried to kill me. Ex MIL/LE, welcome to chime in.

    • i feel for these guys. i hope they know there are a lot more like us that support them than the opposite. I wish i could help guys like this but i just don’t think they would take advice or help from someone who wasn’t military and doesn’t “precisely” know what they are going through. i watched a friend die at 17 but thats a little different than this.

  10. I carry for defense of my family and myself. I dont ever want to be in a position to have to pull that trigger. But i am prepared to do so. And prepared for any of the consequences that may follow if it means that my loved ones were spared from those who wish to do them harm. I dont actively go to places where there is a greater likelyhood of this occurring. Infact, the opposite is true. But i am prepared if it comes looking for me.

  11. Killing humans is never ok. As a matter of reality and fact though, it’s occasionally necessary. Necessity doesn’t absolve us of the fact that it’s not ok to kill. Necessity saves us only from punishment under law for our actions. Nothing but internalized rationalization can stop the punishment we mete out to ourselves.

    Being forced by service or by circumstance into a position which necessitates killing another person is complex to deal with. It’s not a voluntary act, an act of will that you craved and wanted to do. Killing someone purely by choice with no motivation other than just to end a life appears much easier to cope with. Interestingly we refer to those that kill because they have to by somewhat heroic terminology and those that elect to kill for more or less entertainment as psychopaths.

    Another of life’s little internal logical contradictions: Those that need to do something horrible can’t suddenly want to so that they are not tormented by guilt afterward and those that decide to do something can’t be suddnely saddled with any appropriately tortuous guilt. Who says the universe likes balance?

  12. Its a battle between right and wrong, good and evil.
    I was trained, and if the time comes so be it. I hope to do whatever needs to be done. And survive, hopefully without any legality issues. As some say best be tried by 12 than carried by 6. I will attempt to protect me and mine, as much as I am able. I admit I feel a little “something” for taken some game, except squirrel. But the evil doers dont care, I do to an extent, so thats good its what makes me a good guy 🙂 w/o the 2nd there is no 1st or any otother amendments God willing I support mine, and provide protection for mine and me.
    Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving in these troubling times! Stay Frosty and stay Armed! 😀 legally that is

  13. Serious question. Obviously, human life is important, we love our fellow men, we don’t want to be cruel or take a life needlessly.

    That said, how is killing someone in self-defense who is intending to do you or your loved ones harm, any different from putting down a rabid dog? You can be a “dog person,” but still, you gotta do what you gotta do, and I think most people would sleep well afterwards, except for the residual effects from being in a real life-or-death scenario.

    People fetishize human life to an unhealthy degree these days. If you don’t legitimately believe in the war, or your own right to assert the worth of your own and your family’s lives over the life of a criminal, then certainly, I think the decision to pull the trigger, fire the missile, loose the arrow, stab with the gladius, or what have you, would be a difficult one, likely to haunt a man for the rest of his life.

  14. I train 3 times a week at the range and on my property. I’ve been CC for most of my 46 years and I still have a deep sense of dread when contemplating taking a life, even in self defense. I think that’s one of the reasons I train my body to react without having to think to much. What I mean is I need to be 100% sure I’m doing the right thing if I ever draw, but I can also over think the process so I’m training my body not to freeze up and follow through after that decision is made. I hear a lot of people talk nonchalantly about taking a life. I don’t get It, to me it’s the absolute last resort.

  15. I doubt the guy who shot the med student in New Orleans this week had had any problems with killing. It is no doubt cultural and has a lot to do with ones instilled (or not) morals and ethics of conduct.

  16. From my personal experience in OIF 1 & 3 (63B, but I rode behind an M2 most of the time as part of QRF), I can honestly say that taking a haji out who was trying to kill us or our TCN contractors posed no more of a moral dilemma than killing a roach. It wasn’t that I enjoyed it; I just had no problem doing something that meant the difference between life & death.
    Other guys took it harder. I never thought any less of them, or that they would somehow turn yellow outside the wire.
    Yet when I went out for firearm deer season after I ETS’d, something had definitely changed. I had a really beautiful buck present for a perfect shot on the first day, and I couldn’t do it. Just the thought of killing that deer made me start shaking & squirting tears. That has never happened before, and now it’s impossible for me to deer hunt without turning into an emotional wreck (yet for some reason hunting wild pig don’t affect me at all).

    • I didn’t hunt for nearly 40 years after I came home. Then my adult son got interested in hunting and eventually he reawakened my desire to do it.

      Small steps. I wouldn’t even touch a gun for a while after I came back.

    • I had a really beautiful buck present for a perfect shot on the first day, and I couldn’t do it.

      I’ve been there too. I had a perfect shot, maybe 35 yards, and I just couldn’t drop that deer. That was more than 50 years ago, and I still remember it kinda fondly. Had that buck been a bad guy intent on doing me harm, I would have dropped him and walked away feeling good about myself. Then again, the more I know about people, the more I like animals.

    • I hunt a lot, and I’ve let many animals go because they were just so beautiful and peaceful that I didn’t want to spoil the moment. I actually found shooting people easier than shooting a big buck or a big ram. I still do. And I’m all good with that.

      But I didn’t share the experience of not wanting to pick up a gun, or to take an animal’s life hunting. Just the opposite. I don’t hunt to kill, I kill to have hunted. Hunting calms me, puts my head in the right place, and puts me back in touch with the world I live in. And it does it in a physical, mental, and spiritual way that nothing else can. Hunting, not just walking around in nature, makes me feel grounded into the world that is happening right now, right under my feet and all around me.

  17. Lonnie, a Vietnam infantryman, however figures killing is never justified away from the battlefield.
    Sooo.killing ordinary slobs in the name of the state is super cool.
    I would rather kill truly evil thugs than a slob soldier.

  18. As the Bible teaches, there is a difference between “killing” and “murder.” One at times is a necessity in a world of fallen men, the other is always morally wrong.

  19. Well said Joseph QC. And I am commanded to protect my loved ones. Being willing to take all the fallout is the key…

  20. Having been their done that, do it enough like a sniper it can become a macabre dance of death! you can quote from any book or any source, but that is impersonal, If you are of a Christian belief the concept of murder and killing have become confused, whether justified or not the camera in your head will not erase, the sights sounds, smells all effect you!, too this day I detest the sound of Flying Choppers, all the preceding and more work on the mind over the unnatural act of killing {for most people it is a trained response,} you do not make friends easily, you scan a room upon entrance, have a tendency to sit with back too wall, avoid crowds etc. personally I said I would never own a weapon again! I lied to myself! I hope to never use a weapon of any kind, but being a realist, I will to protect my self , my family by any means necessary or expedient

  21. And I also agree with Joseph Quixote. Killing, whether in war when fighting the enemy, or in defense of oneself and/or family when threatened with harm, becomes a necessity. Murder, on the other hand, is the willful taking of a life with no purpose other than to end that life. I’ve seen a lot of other comments here that hit at the heart of the matter: hoping to never be faced with having to shoot someone; hoping to have the courage if it does become necessary; knowing there will be remorse if it does happen; realizing every time one leaves the house armed it could happen; etc…And yes there may be a difference between those who have been “tried” and those that have not, including military and law enforcement. Personally I feel anyone who walks away from killing another human and feels nothing is someone who will eventually suffer mentally and emotionally. I know we have SpecOps type troops that are trained specifically in the art of killing. And maybe those individuals will go on to live normal lives. Maybe they have had the emotions trained out of them. But the average populace just cannot endure such without some kind of remorse. I know too many people suffering PTSD, including my grandfather (now deceased) who came back from WWII. During his day it was called “shell shock”. They did not know what PTSD was. He saw a lot of men killed the Pacific. So every time I carry I have to ask myself am I prepared to take someone’s life, if necessary? But when I watch something like the guy who shot the med student in New Orleans, as brought up by Jjimmyjomga, that guy was intent on murder, I would not have a problem shooting back. And if a terrorist were to come around looking to kill the innocent, I would not have a problem shooting them. And when I shoot at someone, I am shooting to kill, not to maim. So, am I prepared to kill if necessary? Yes.

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