Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal Tuesday threw his support behind calls for tougher gun control legislation, beginning with a possible ban on military-style assault weapons that he said have no place on the streets of America.
"I spent a career carrying typically either a M16 and later, a M4 carbine,” McChrystal said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And a M4 carbine fires a .223 caliber round, which is 5.56 millimeters, at about 3,000 feet per second. When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It’s designed to do that. That’s what our soldiers ought to carry.”
But he added, "I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets, and particularly around the schools in America."
McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan who resigned in 2010 following a controversial Rolling Stone article detailing criticism of the Obama administration by his staff, was on Morning Joe to promote his new book, "My Share of the Task."
But he spent much of his time stressing the importance of taking a closer look at gun control and what else can be done to reduce gun violence in America.
"We've got to protect our children, we've got to protect our police, we've got to protect our population. And I think we have to take a very mature look at that," McChrystal said.
"My message is we've got to look at the situation in America. The number of people in American killed by firearms is extraordinary, compared to other nations," he added. "And I don't think we're a blood-thirsty culture. So I think we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people."
When asked about the Rolling Stone magazine article that led to the end of his 34-year Army career, McChrystal said he had no regrets about allowing a reporter access to him his staff in Afghanistan. He said he also took full responsibility for the article that focusing on unflattering comments made by his staff about Vice President Joe Biden and differences with the administration over how the war in Afghanistan was being carried out.
The Pentagon later found that the general done nothing wrong and questioned the accuracy of the article. But McChrystal offered no excuses.
"As a commander I take responsibility for what happened. And when I came back [from Afghanistan] to offer my resignation to President Obama, that's exactly what I told him," McChrystal said. "I take responsibility because that's what commanders do and move on.
"I think that the media controversy that arose around that, I actually believe that it may not be entirely accurate.," he continued. "But the commander-in-chief whom I worked for — and he's still my commander-in-chief — I owe [it to] him not to put such things on his desk, not to have to face such controversies."
McChrystal was also asked about what he thought of Obama's nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. He stopped short of endorsing the nomination, but he suggested that Hagel's background and experience as a decorated soldier would be a valuable asset to the position.
"I think insight for any leader who has either on the ground experience or up close personal experience is extraordinarily valuable. It's not an automatic or prerequisite quality for a job, but I think it helps a lot," McChrystal said, adding that the most important measure of a Cabinet member should be whether or not he or she has the trust of the president "because they're going to have very complex things in the years ahead that can't be predicted right now."
McChrystal also warned that the nation's military needs to be better prepared for the next war, noting, "We didn't know enough when we went in [to Afghanistan and Iraq] and we were very slow in learning."
"And that needs to be how we think about our military forces in the future . . . because nobody knows what the next war is going to look like," he said.
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