On Guns, Freedom, and the Right to Feel Safe: A Veteran Speaks Out | Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

On Guns, Freedom, and the Right to Feel Safe: A Veteran Speaks Out

Joe Plenzler

I've been called many things during my 46 successful trips around the sun.

Eagle Scout.

United States Marine Corps officer.

Combat veteran of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've seen first-hand the destructive power of weapons on the battlefields of Iraq.

I was in combat and have had to use weapons to defend my life and the lives of my teammates.

And military-grade weapons? The only place for those is on battlefields. Not in America's churches or near America's concerts, let alone schools, and movie theatres. Not on America's streets. Period.

I know that we can open the door to a conversation about responsible gun use and ownership while coming to terms with the fact that the Second Amendment, like all our Constitutional amendments, is not an absolute right.

In this troubling and dangerous world, we need unity, not division. We need understanding, not prejudice. We need strength, not fear.

We need to persuade others to see that true freedom is not living in fear and being able to carry a gun everywhere that one goes.

I know.

I've been to places where society was literally coming apart at the seams; where you had to carry an M-16 rifle and an M-9 pistol everywhere you went.

That's not freedom.

True freedom is being able to walk the aisle of Walmart without fearing that another shopper will become unhinged and point a gun at you. True freedom is living in a society that protects us from dangerous people having easy access to guns and where we are can live free of any fear of violence.

We all want a more peaceful, abundant, and free society, and I represent many veterans who want to do the same and will support Brady in its campaigns in every way that we can.

It won't be easy. It will be hard.

But that's OK.

People like us do "hard".

And I am confident that, together with Brady, we can make safer communities a reality.