Dr. Janet Everhard: Our veterans advise us on gun safety with common sense


The veteran in the kayak floating next to me is a font of wisdom. Each one I’ve encountered has thoroughly examined his or her role in protecting our country and is dealing with the deaths or injury of friends.

Throughout my seven years volunteering for Team River Runner, a national organization that uses kayaking as recreational therapy for veterans with PTSD, chronic homelessness, substance abuse, and severe disability, I have benefited from the friendship and advice of veterans.

Now that I am a candidate for U.S. representative in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District, I use the wisdom of We the People to help form my voice. So I asked my veteran friends to help me understand common sense gun safety and the use of assault weapons from the view of firearms professionals.

Tom Yeager of Portsmouth spent 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a senior master sergeant. He worked in computer-communications systems, with deployments in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Yeager writes, “What makes the AR-15 and its variants so lethal compared to other weapons, even those of much larger caliber, is the fact that it fires a high-velocity round. That means that it is designed to punch a small entrance hole but that it is accompanied by a shock wave that destroys all tissue within a few inches of the path of travel and blows a large exit wound on the way out. It can pulverize several inches of bone. In addition, the recoil-absorbing features enable the shooter to maintain control and accuracy when firing rapidly.”

Yeager continues, “All of these features, including the ability to use high-capacity magazines, are clearly designed for the battlefield, for killing human beings. It is not a sporting rifle unless your sport is hunting humans. It is not an effective weapon for self-defense, including using it to defend against home invasion, as it would be difficult to use in such close quarters and you stand a good chance of sending lethal rounds through your neighbor’s house. As for arming yourself against a ‘tyrannical’ government? That is a fantasy brought to you by the NRA.”

Bill Butler of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is an Army veteran who served as a combat medic/paratrooper in 1990-94 in the 82nd Airborne Division and 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne). Butler advises, “Classify ‘assault weapon’ as a National Firearms Act (NFA) Regulated Weapon. We should define these as weapons with high net lethality, or those designed to inflict maximum casualties in minimum time. Owning these weapons should require obtaining a Type 1 Federal Firearms License with its extensive background check.”

Jonathon E. Stone of Cincinnati, a Marine Corps infantryman from 1997 to 2003, writes, “As a parent of a preschooler and a first-grade student, it is unfathomable for me, after being deployed to several places abroad, for our teachers to be armed. In terms of tactics, they are at every disadvantage against an active shooter.”

Let’s listen to the wisdom of our veterans. We can respect responsible gun owners, yet still make smart, reasonable changes that reduce deadly gun violence and keep our children safe.

Dr. Janet Everhard, a retired physician and volunteer to veterans, is a resident of New Richmond, Clermont County. She is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative in southwestern Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District.