A tank is a weapons system with four operators that work together as a crew to place
either main gun or machine gun rounds onto a specific target. The M60A3 that I started on sported a 105mm main gun, a .50 caliber machine gun, a 7.62 coaxial machine gun, two M3 submachine guns and four .45 caliber pistols. The M1 tank came with a 105mm (currently 120 mm) main gun, .50 caliber machine gun, two 7.62 machine guns, an M16 rifle and four .45 caliber pistols. A tank can put out massive amounts of firepower.
When we went to the field or to a range for live fire, all the weapons were hauled to the motor pool and mounted on the tank. Once mounted, someone was always with the tank to make sure all the weapons were secure. Each crewmember was responsible for the security of his own weapon and God help the soul of a soldier who didn’t keep track of his weapon.
When we returned to the barracks after maneuvers or live fire all weapons were cleaned and returned to the arms room. They were placed into heavy duty racks and securely locked. At the end of the day the arms room was securely locked. Someone (usually the Charge of Quarters/CQ) were positioned to keep an eye on the arms room. The Staff Duty Officer or NCO would usually check the arms room for security a couple of times a night. The Army is deadly serious about weapons security.
We did not carry our weapons around when we were off duty. We did not carry them to town with us. Usually, when we came in from wherever we had been we were sick of carrying our weapons around with us.
If a soldier lived in the barracks and wanted to own a POW (privately owned weapon) he could, but that weapon would be locked up in the arms room. When the unit would go to a small arms range to qualify with personal weapons guys would usually be allowed to bring their POWs to play with time allowing. Again, at the end of the day when range firing was complete, weapons were cleaned (the Army spends a lot of time cleaning weapons) and returned to the arms room. No one was released from duty until the last weapon was turned in and accounted for.
The least soldier in a unit is trained to a minimum proficiency with the various weapons that unit used. The longer he’s in the unit the more proficient he is. A tank crew that’s been together for six months is usually as proficient as any SWAT team. Controlled violence is their line of work, but they’re just as happy to have turned in the last weapon and opened the first cold beer.
That was many years ago…
Today, a sizable chunk of our population thinks that they need to walk around in public with military style weapons. This past Sunday night we witnessed the worst-case scenario when the general public is allowed to do this. A man opened fire on a crowd of twenty-two thousand people who were doing nothing worse than enjoying a concert. He opened fire using weapons that were tuned to fully automatic capacity. He fired long bursts, paused (to reload or grab another weapon) and fired again. This went on for almost fifteen minutes. Some commentators have referred to this individual as a “sniper”. He wasn’t sniping anything. He was simply pointing his weapon at the crowd and holding the trigger down. The range was about four hundred meters. Fifty-nine people were killed. Five hundred were wounded.
I’ve not heard (so far) that this man ever served a day in the military. A trained soldier or marine would have been far more deadly. They would have selected targets and fired in controlled bursts or on semi-automatic. Far more people would have died. But trained, disciplined service members and veterans don’t do this.
I would have thought that the NRA would be going for the propaganda high ground before the last round was fired in Las Vegas Sunday night. They certainly did after the Sandy Hook massacre. But they’ve been strangely quiet this go round although stock prices for gun manufacturers have sky rocketed. Maybe this guy finally found the magic body count to piss off the American public over common sense gun control.
I’m not going to get into a pissing contest with anyone over the Second Amendment except to say this: JUST BECAUSE THE CONSTITUTION SAYS EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO OWN A FIREARM DOESN’T MEANT EVERYONE SHOULD OWN A FIREARM…much less twenty-three.
In my humble opinion, anyone who has never served a day in the military should be allowed to own a military style firearm