Last Christmas, American Sniper represented more than just a simple holiday blockbuster — it was a manifestation of the national debate on gun control and U.S. foreign policy. Taya Kyle, the wife of its subject, Chris, confronted Barack Obama at a town hall meeting on Thursday evening to continue that conversation.
Barack’s public discourse was organized by CNN to discuss current action that the White House has taken with the intention of curbing gun violence in the United States. American Sniper Chris’ wife, Taya Kyle, was one of the invited guests. Appearing on the televised event, she argued that stricter control in the form of background checks would not be an effective tool to combat mass murder.
“I don’t know that any of them would have been stopped by a background check… So I think part it we have to recognize is we cannot outlaw murder. Because the people who are murdering are breaking the law, but they also don’t have the moral code that we have. So they can do the same amount of damage with a pipe bomb. The problem is that they want to murder.”
In addition to questioning Obama’s newest measure to his face at the town hall meeting, Taya also penned a fleshed-out version of her arguments for CNN. One of the American Sniper wife’s main points was that crime has gone down while gun ownership has gone up. Kyle’s widow said that a few cannot be punished for the actions of a minority.
“Does every man commit rape? There is a human element here that is real and we cannot legislate. Would we take away the freedom of all men by castration because some cannot handle what they have? No, we allow freedom until an individual chooses to take something that others use for good and use it to do harm to another.”
Taya revisited the events of American Sniper to speak out about her husband’s killer, Eddie Ray Routh, who killed Kyle while the two were at a shooting range. While the death has been highlighted by some as an example of the dangers of guns, Taya said that not PTSD, as Eddie had often claimed, but a drug use problem was at the root of her husband’s murder. Police, she said, should be focused on mental illness and drugs instead of limiting citizens’ access to arms.
“In the state of Texas, there is a fairly new certification process for our police where officers are trained to notice and recognize mental health issues and have knowledge of the drugs people take and the effects of them. So how they intervene is different based on whether they believe there is a mental health issue vs. a drug issue. Wouldn’t it be a better use of our time to work through this issue? It gives police a different crisis intervention method.”
Obama countered Kyle’s widow’s points by saying that, while crime had decreased overall, it had actually increased in the areas with the highest rates of gun ownership. Though he did not say that Chris’ death, dramatized in American Sniper, could have been prevented by the newest gun control measures, he did tell Taya that over time, he believed they would.
“But I think the most important point I want to make is that you will be able to purchase a firearm, some criminals will get their hands on firearms even if there is a background check … But in the same way that we don’t eliminate all traffic accidents but over the course of 20 years traffic accidents get lower … but over time that violence was reduced so families are spared. That’s the same thing we can do with gun ownership.”
Taya Kyle has retained a certain amount of public notoriety on the issue of gun control after the success of American Sniper as Chris Kyle’s wife, noted by her selection for the town hall meeting.
[Image via Tom Fox and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]