For 10 years after 9/11, James Strickland fought for the United States Army, slogging, rifle on shoulder, from battlefield to battlefield.
He took and returned fire, he says, for not just a country, but an idea – that America had God’s special blessing. “I used a gun for a living to enforce that idea,” he says.
As the U.S. endures a wave of gun violence, it sometimes seems to him as if the war has come home. In 2021, active shooter incidents increased 52% over 2020, according to the FBI. This weekend, mass shootings in Pennsylvania and South Carolina added to casualties in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.