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Iraq War Doctor: Assault Weapons Are ‘Human-Killing Machines’

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Iraq War Doctor: Assault Weapons Are ‘Human-Killing Machines’


With the Senate Judiciary Committee set to vote Thursday on advancing Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 to the full chamber, The National Memo interviewed Dr. Manan Trivedi, an Iraq war veteran, about the medical perspective on assault weapons from someone who has seen and treated firsthand the devastating human consequences of these lethal weapons.

Dr. Trivedi is a board-certified internal medicine physician and former Navy Lieutenant Commander who was the medical team commander for the first ground troops to cross the line and enter Iraq in 2003. He was twice the Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district.

Through the progressive Truman National Security Project and Americans United for Change, Dr. Trivedi is advocating for an assault weapons ban by sharing his own experiences as a physician on the front lines of Iraq and South Central Los Angeles.

How did you get involved in wanting to make your views on assault weapons public through the media?

Throughout my career I’ve seen the effects of assault weapons in the military and in the civilian sector. Frankly, I think politically that there are a lot of folks who lack the courage to do anything about it. But if you’ve seen the things that I’ve seen, I don’t think it would be that hard to recognize that we need an assault weapons ban.

How has your experience in military medicine on the front lines of Iraq treating soldiers wounded by military weapons shaped your views on the current debate going on in the United States surrounding assault weapons and high-capacity magazines?

I think it’s shaped my views significantly. It’s one thing to say we need an assault weapons ban because you think it’s wrong or you don’t think they’re appropriate for people to have, but it’s another thing to say it because you’ve seen the devastating effects they can have on humans.

These things are human-killing machines, and I’ve seen it in Iraq. I’ve seen it with soldiers I’ve treated. I’ve seen it with enemies. And I’ve seen it in the civilian sector, too. I was in training for going to Iraq by helping run the trauma service in South Central Los Angeles. I was there for many gunshot victim trauma runs. I also was an EMT before I went to med school. So throughout my career in all stages I’ve seen the effects. And when you see that and try to treat it firsthand, it has a major effect and makes a major imprint on your mind.

Can you explain to readers the types of trauma injuries you treated and witnessed either in the war zones of Iraq or in South Central as a result of these types of weapons? How is it different from injuries caused by a shotgun or handgun?

Assault weapons, particularly, are just devastating. These things, in a spray of bullets, can amputate legs, whereas a gunshot couldn’t do that. The other thing is the munitions, the bullets, are made to kill humans so the entry wound might be really small, but then the exit wound is massive because they are made to mushroom and blow up as soon as they hit bone or flesh. So I’ve seen amputated legs from assault weapons. I’ve seen bodies cut in two or three because of these .50 calibers. That was mostly in Iraq, but I saw it a couple of times in South Central and it’s almost as if they knew what a surgeon would have to do to try to fix this; how to make it impossible. With a knife or a stab wound, you can stitch it up. You can figure out what to put together. But when there’s nothing to put stitches in, no flesh to get a hold of, which is what these assault weapons do, it makes it impossible to try to mend them back together.


  1. montanabill March 12, 2013

    No doubt about it. We should ban assault weapons! Oh wait, we already have.

  2. Michael Kollmorgen March 12, 2013

    We did?

    Seems to me, military-styled assault semi and auto rifles are flying off the shelves these days. They weren’t even born with wings either.

    1. lana ward March 13, 2013

      Why has the DHS stockpiled millions of these weapons??

  3. Dominick Vila March 13, 2013

    Wow! We need a veteran doctor to tell us that assault weapons are killing machines? Are there actually people who really believe weapons designed to kill are manufactured and used to enhance our intellectual acumen? The arguments advanced by the NRA and paranoid or intolerant gun advocates are so ridiculous they don’t even merit a response. Unfortunately, whatever gun control measures Congress passes and our President signs are going to be as ineffective as those signed by former President Reagan and every other national leader who had the courage to confront one of the most powerful elements in the United States: the arms industry. Whatever passes, if anything, is likely to be symbolic, ineffective or unenforceable.

    1. whodatbob March 13, 2013

      You nailed it! Gun control laws are symbolic, feel good (see we did something) laws, wasted effort. How about putting our efforts in to an attempt to determine what causes the few people who commit these crimes to do so, and get them the help they need before they kill more people.

    2. whodatbob March 13, 2013

      The only way to make any of these laws enforceable is to confication of guns. Responisable gun owners are aware of this. That is why responsible are opposed these ineffective laws. They see a slippery slop to the repeal of the Second Amendment.

    3. lana ward March 13, 2013

      So why has the DHS stockpiled millions of these weapons???

  4. latebloomingrandma March 13, 2013

    Personally, I would be very uneasy if i knew my neighbor had assault weapons. I think insurance companies should start thinking about raising premiums to homeowners policies and life insurance policies if you have guns in your residence.
    Secondly, the argument you hear a lot is that cars kill more people than guns, why not ban cars, or how about banning knives, etc., etc. Well, all those things have other primary purposes. What is the purpose of a military style weapon? As far as I know, besides target shooting (presumably to acquire accuracy) they are used to kill people.

  5. whodatbob March 13, 2013

    Dominick, I responded to your post after skimming the artical. After an indepth read I beileve it should be pulled. His point is ligimate but the use of half truths in defense of his position is in tolorable.

    1. Weapons available for public consumption in the USA are semi automatic weapons made to look like military weapons but are not. The only reason for their appearence, I can think of, is to make immature men feel like real men.

    2. Dr. Trivedi discusses assult weapons. “These things, in a spray of bullets, can amputate legs, whereas a gunshot couldn’t do that” He discribed a fully auto weapon, which is banded. The so called assult weapons available to the public could not spray bullets onlt infilct gunshot wounds.

    3. Dr. Trivedi, “I’ve seen bodies cut in two or three because of these .50 calibers”. Here he talktng about machine guns. Already band in the USA.
    As an exmilitary officer, he knows these facts and is intentionally mixing fact with fiction to push his agenda.

    1. Michael Kollmorgen March 13, 2013

      Automatic Weapons ARE NOT banned (not banded) in the US!

      You can buy a fully-auto machine gun IF you have the proper FFL Licence. It is a rather complex procedure to get the licence. But, if you want one bad enough, you can get it.

      And, by the way, many of these military-styled semi-autos can be converted to fully-auto with the right parts which can be bought either over the net, at a gun store or at a gun show and know a little machining knowledge.

      But, here is the point, yes, these semi-autos seem threatening. But, it don’t take that sort of gun to kill a bunch of people either. Those volunteer firemen weren’t killed with semi-autos, but with regular rifles.

      What this country needs to do is change the CULTURE of the Gun, ANY gun. Raise the cost of ammo so high, that no one could afford ammo for these types of weapons. Make Fines so strict, no one will screw things up. Make sentences so harsh for using a gun, any gun, any crime, during a crime, that no one would ever do it.

      1. whodatbob March 13, 2013

        Any semi can be altered to operate as an automatic but the proposed band is only on the ones that look like military weapons. It is a look what we did action with no teeth. Machine guns are a non issue, the process to obtain a FFL license is complicated and few are issued.

        My point being this was an attempt to work up people with half truths.
        You are correct there is a need to change the gun cultuer in this country but be honest, lies only hurt any cause.

  6. Hillbilly March 13, 2013

    What needs to be done is to hold every gun owner responible for any deaths, wounding or robberies and so done using his or her gun even if they didn’t do it. You hold them responible by having to have insurance for each gun they own that will pay for medical care for innocent people shot by their gun, living expenses for the victim and their family until they are able to go to work or can get Social Security Disability(if we still have it) if they can no loner work. Insurance that will pay all medical care and funeral expenses if they are killed, living expenses for their family until the youngest child is 18. The more deadly the weapon is the higher their insurance premium and if they stop paying the premiums, the gun is taken. or else tax all weapons and ammo at a much higher rate than they are and make the ammo tax the higher tax.


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