Social Question

jealoustome's avatar

"My son wants to be a sniper." How would you feel if someone said this to you?

Asked by jealoustome (1514points) March 16th, 2010

I just saw a facebook update from one of my friends that said this, “Finished watching “Enemy at the Gates” a while ago with son who wants to be a sniper.”

I have mixed feelings about this. I can understand wanting to join the military and then once you are in the military being assigned the role of “sniper” because you are a good shot, but it seems slightly worrisome for a teenager to want to be a sniper (the whole desire to kill humans part is slightly disturbing to me.) But, I know boys often want to be soldiers, so maybe he’s just really specific? What do you think?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

62 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

My dad was a sniper in the Marine Corp.He was a outstanding man who deserved respect and love and got it:)

jealoustome's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I definitely don’t want to give the impression that I think being a sniper in the military is a bad thing. I’m just curious about how people feel about a teenager desiring that job. I live in Colorado, not far from Littleton where the Columbine high school shootings occurred. When I read that facebook post, that was the first thing that came to mind.

sleepdoc's avatar

My guess .. and this is PURELY a guess… is that this person wants to excell at something. Snipers are viewed as being the best at what they do. Which is shooting a weapon. Add in the way hollywood portreys what the are often asked to do and they then also become heroes, those who do for others what they can’t do for themselves. Those who are the ultimately protectors of their friends. Those who are really looking for just the bad guys who “have” to be taken out to preserve the cause. When you look at it like this it is something that sounds pretty cool. Especially to a teenager.

I don’t think most people realize what it is like to have a weapon in their hand pointed at another human being so they don’t see the other side of the coin.

jealoustome's avatar

@sleepdoc Great take on this. I did not think of it that way. Like I said, I had a knee-jerk response because of my proximity to Columbine and the feelings associated with that. I can see how a young person would want to exemplify the traits you mentioned.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@jealoustome -I didn’t take it that way :) I can see how a parent would be concerned if you thought his reasons were not good..I would question him about his reasons for wanting to do it.

Coloma's avatar

I thought your question read: ’ My son wants to be a STRIPPER!’ lololol

I think thats a much better choice! haha

I can’t fathom how one could be a killing machine and ever attain any sense of happiness or inner peace.

Surely he can find another profession that would not carry such psychically damaging potential. :-(

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

To interpret the young man’s meaning, you really need to know what it is about the role of sniper that appeals to him.

It may be an impulsive statement that will amount to nothing if people avoid overreacting.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’d wonder why and I’d wonder why the parent is proud of this.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

My thoughts when reading: “Finished watching “Enemy at the Gates” a while ago with son who wants to be a sniper” is that he saw something that was portrayed in a positive light in a movie, and got excited, but has no real aspirations to be one. He just saw something in a movie that he thought was cool, and thought “I’d like to be sniper too”. But I honestly wouldn’t put much stock into it, next week he’ll see something else and want to be that.

njnyjobs's avatar

Has he been playing too much military Role Playing video games such as Call of Duty series?

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I hold the Expert and Presidents 100 badges and am fully qualified as sniper and spotter with the M-24 and M-82A1. It’s honorable duty in defense of ones country, also a very exacting and satisfying sport to shoot accurately at long range. A person desiring to learn these skills is not displaying antisocial or psychotic tendencies, any more than a person who wishes to learn unarmed martial arts.

elenuial's avatar

Most people who want to be snipers don’t get to be snipers, because the job tends to mentally unbalance one because of the unique pressures and demands (e.g. sitting in a tree for days, and then treating another human being like just another deer). As most people have said, he probably just wants to be good at something and recognized as an awesome person.

So find something that doesn’t involve killing people and encourage him to work hard.

EDIT: Allow me to note that I’m not disparaging the job itself. I do think, however, that we should encourage youths to enter peaceful professions, without slight against those who choose otherwise to defend what they love.

davidbetterman's avatar

Hard to understand anyone wanting to be a murderer.

jealoustome's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Thanks for your answer. Can I ask you when you first desired to be a sniper and why? I get that it is a demanding activity that requires much time to master. Is that what drew you to it?

hudsong's avatar

I used to want to be one too. I was elated when I tested for 20/15 vision, and I’ve always known my hands were rock steady. Then I realized how horrible it would be to shoot another person.
I think there is an attraction for people because it’s technical, sneaky, cool; those were my attractions at least. I love technology, and getting to use super expensive scopes, night vision, rifles, and other stuff just seemed really cool to me. When you see ‘snipers’ portrayed in movies, I think they are shown to be intelligent, calm, patient, and highly skilled, elite people, which is something alone to aspire to, even without regards to their real purpose, and the attraction I mentioned.

ETpro's avatar

My son is an officer in the Army Infantry. Of course, I am incredibly worried about his safety. He’s due to deploy shortly to Afghanistan. But I am also enormously proud of his courage and his willingness to serve and protect this country we all love. Like you, I don’t like killing. But I am no Pollyanna. I know full well that if we unilaterally disarmed, that would not prevent war, it would assure it. In a heartbeat, some ruthless dictator would be invading our land, slaughtering people in wholesale numbers and raping and pillaging. Until mankind progresses past this barbarism as a whole, we will need men and women willing to serve to keep that from happening.

Most of us cannot qualify as a sniper. You have to have a rock-steady hand, not one iota of nervous jitter, and eagle-like eyesight. For those few individuals who have those assets, they do a very valuable service in protecting the lives of many of their comrades by taking out enemy soldiers lying in ambush before they get a chance to spring their deadly trap. I’d support him 1000% if he can make the grade for the job.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jealoustome I learned the shooting skills long before I entered the Army. I actually was a 12A MOS (combat engineer officer), but was assigned for a time to the Advanced Marksmanship Unit because of my high shooting scores in Basic Training. I had taken up shooting as a sport when a child, with no intention of ever becoming a professional sniper. When you take the oath, you go where you’re told and do what you’re told. In 29 years of service, I only used my skills twice against another person, once in Panama and once in Afghanistan. Both were legitimate military targets (and both in excess of 1000 yards).

drClaw's avatar

I would say “Semper Fi, son”

CMaz's avatar

Sniper’s rock!

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@plethora 10,000 GA’s to you. I can’t stand the mindset of “everyone who owns and operates a gun is automatically a killer”. A ridiculous assumption that gets passed around like a fact, when in reality it’s just a gross generalization.

davidbetterman's avatar

@plethora Did you think snipers just shoot warning shots?

jealoustome's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Thanks for explaining. Very interesting. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to have that job. To have so much responsibility and to have to follow an order to end another life seems overwhelming to me. I can logically understand (and appreciate) that this is a necessary part of warfare, but emotionally…difficult.

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities I must say that I would have no problem pointing a gun and shooting it at someone who was attempting to hurt me or my family. So, I understand the defense part of owning a gun. But, I was really asking about the desire to shoot and kill when I wrote this question.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@jealoustome My reply was in the context of the link @plethora posted, and off-topic from the main conversation about snipers. That’s why I posted it with whisper text.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I’m in no position to judge him based on what he wants to do in his life.

jealoustome's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Oh, yeah, I get it now. Sorry. :)

deni's avatar

It’s pretty unrealistic anyhow, but hey, we all aspire to be different things. I wouldn’t really have a problem.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jealoustome Both shots I made actually saved lives. The shot in Panama took out a machine gun that was endangering civilians as well as US troops. The Taliban-type was setting up a rocket launcher aimed at my troops.

jealoustome's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I’m glad that there are people who are able to do the job you did, but I would be even more glad if there were no people who created the situations that require your job to exist. I dream that the world will someday be a peaceful place, but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jealoustome No one wishes that more than a professional soldier. I could just as easily been a civilian engineer or historian. Military service has been a family tradition for over 300 years, but I wish it wasn’t necessary.

davidbetterman's avatar

No one wishes that more than a professional soldier.

mrrich724's avatar

Just get him to be realistic. If he wants to be a sniper, great for him, he’s a young man who actually might know what path he wants to take in life. It is a legitimate career.

But the worrisome part for me is that he wants to do it “because he saw it in a movie.” That’s unrealistic, and he should probably develop a sounder decision making process for his life. That’s the part I think is important and worrisome.

mammal's avatar

@ETpro wouldn’t it be better if the sniper was skillfully deployed to protect his own land rather than actively carrying out extraterritorial assassinations in foreign lands on the basis of a misguided, media fueled paranoia concerning a hypothetical threat by an undemocratically elected leader.

i mean, do you walk around euthanizing every dog that barks at you on the presumption that it will inevitably bite you?

Sniper Vasily Zaytsev whether bigged up by Soviet war propaganda or not, was heroized for defending Stalingrad from a particuarly Nasty foreign invader. Protecting home and hearth, not for picking off dissidents in Chechnya.

nebule's avatar

Oh my god…I would be disturbed

ETpro's avatar

@mammal I don’t see the destruction of the World Trade Center and colliding a commercial airliner into the Pentagon as hypothetical threats. In my fact-based universe, these things actually happened, and the people behind them made press releases and video tapes threatening to do more of the same. Of course, things in ideology-based universes are quite different.

Coloma's avatar


Youhave mentioned some serious issues with depression?

Just curious, do you think that has something to do with your career choices?

Seems like a possible link to me.

Everyone knows that a lot of military people struggle with mental health ramifications due to the highly stressful and, I’m sorry if this offends anyone..‘unnatural’ job duties.

Killing in self defense is one thing, being ordered to kill quite another.

Cruiser's avatar

I drove home a carload of Boy Scouts on Sun after a camp out and the older boy in the front seat next to me said the exact same thing! Weird! He want to be either a marine sniper or navy repair diver. His bro is a jar head and hates it. So I told him how cool diving is and how he will like it.

davidbetterman's avatar

@ETpro So these wars in which we are still engaged are an attempt to quell future attacks?
Why, that would mean these wars are neverending…

Fenris's avatar

Humanity is naturally violent, and death is a facet of life that isn’t going anywhere. Our fear of it and the fact that it can even be found necessary is just an extension of the preservation instinct.

Snipers work hard for their money. If someone’s kid thinks he’s got the chops to be an eagle eye, let him. to be good at it is something to be proud of – and something that will definitely line the bank.

cockswain's avatar

For every year under 18 the son was, I’d think it was less and less likely he would become a sniper. At 15 I wanted to be a soldier of fortune, like Rambo or something, having cool adventures in the jungle. At 16 I thought it would be a chill job to become a long-haul truck driver and just get high all the time. At 17 I was pretty sure I could just make a living on Grateful Dead tour. When I finished high school, I worked as a butcher then delivered pizza, then a mechanic. Now I’m in biotech and want to get into renewable energy. Maybe I’ll want to be an astronaut one day.

Despite the honorable nature of defending your country and potentially saving lives, and I say this not being a sniper, you could be asked to kill someone without having complete faith the target deserved death. Rather, your faith is in the chain of command that issued the order. In @stranger_in_a_strange_land‘s situation, he could clearly see it was justified and that’s not what I’d take exception to i really want to stress I don’t want to insult him, but it is really important for the adult to provide the less-than-exciting, morally questionable nature of that sort of work to the child.

YARNLADY's avatar

It would require some serious discussions, but I would see to it that he was properly trained. I was a volunteer with the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corp, and it was our mission to help boys and girls as young as 10 to develop self-discipline, physical discipline, and mental discipline, and prepare them to be good citizens, either in the military, or other service to their country.

plethora's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Thank you….:)
@stranger_in_a_strange_land WHOA man…....snipers are awesome!!

plethora's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Congrats and honor to your dad

ETpro's avatar

@davidbetterman I do not think the Iraq war was justified, but I do see the Afghan war as necessary. No, it won’t stop al;l terrorism everywhere. Terrorism is a tactic, not an army. You can defeat armies but you cannot conquer tactics. What we are doing in Afghanistan is removing a safe haven where massive terror attacks could be, and were launched.

plethora's avatar

@davidbetterman You’re way outclassed in this thread. It’s the military that protects your right to hold the opinions you do….and you would be dead without them.

mammal's avatar

@ETpro OK well ponder this, wouldn’t it be preferable that a well trained sniper/snipers, were planted in Afghanistan or neighbouring region, to Target Bin Laden et al. Rather than getting embroiled in a lingering conflict. With the primary mission objective remaining incomplete and no sign of the Taliban quitting anytime soon.

Incidentally when you consider how many millions of people America bombed during WWII and after, not to mention how much infrastructure ruined, 1000’s acres of farmland rendered barren in Vietnam etc, the world trade centre although spectacularly biblical in it’s destruction hardly balances the accounts.

mammal's avatar

@plethora You’re way outclassed in this thread. It’s the military that protects your right to hold the opinions you do….and you would be dead without them. i see, so America and Britain are continually at war so we can express an opinion, stupid or otherwise, Very noble… how spoilt and ungrateful we all must appear.

plethora's avatar

@mammal Yes you do….further, if you live in the US, you should move to another country. You don’t deserve what you have here. You are an ungrateful wretch.

sleepdoc's avatar

—whisper—Alright, I typed this once only to have it go away. This is not so much about whether becoming a sniper is best for this person, but I want to say it anyway. For much longer than the US and GB have been around, being in the military has been (and for the most part remains) a noble and honest living. Say what you want about the current politcal situation and your support of where our troops are now and what they are doing. The fact remains that they are there so you don’t have to be. There are men and women who voluntarily place themselves in harms way in countries (and even now they are not just in Iraq and Afghanistan) to help preserve life the way you know it. At least in the US part of your tax money goes to making sure there is a military who is trained and ready to act on a moments notice. They do this so we (you) don’t have to learn to use and actually pick up a weapon in your own defense. Were they not where they are now, there would still be a need for them. From near the begining of the world there has almost always been violence. Most of this was based on greed and hatred and I would say still is today. Until this stops there will be a need for soldiers. So I say THANK YOU to those men and women who have learned a skill and do it everyday for less than their civilian counterparts make to preserve the life I leave without me having to think about it.

plethora's avatar

@sleepdoc Yesssss…....very well said!!!

mammal's avatar

@plethora should i now….you see, you have the right to be stupid, ignorant and rude all in one go, so i guess that justifies all the bloodshed, my mistake.

plethora's avatar

@mammal But you do such a good job of truly earning the rudeness….quite offensive.

ETpro's avatar

@mammal Do you know what Hitler’s final plan was for after he won WWII? He intended to enslave every nation (his Japanese and Italian allies included) and have then do the physical labor until he could breed enough of the blond, blue-eyed paragons of Aryan perfection that they could take over, and then he was going to exterminate the entire human race save for his Aryans. That is why we have a Military. Hitler isn’t the only evil-minded tyrant who would do much the same unless someone stops them.

As to having a sniper fight the entire Afghan campaign, it would take next to no time for a committed force of even a few thousand Taliban fighters to wipe out a lone sniper. Winning major campaigns is not what snipers are useful for. I think that as a dedicated pacifist who has no earthly idea how war is fought, you had best leave the strategy to people like General Petraeus and the Commander in Chief.

plethora's avatar

@ETpro Very well said. Great answer….:)

mammal's avatar

@plethora offensive to your world view, perhaps, well that can’t be helped, i find it offensive that you think the military fights for social justice and rights, they do not, it wasn’t the military that put on their tin hats and fought for women’s suffrage in USA and Uk was it? or fought for minimum wage, or for the civil rights movement in the 60’s? you would have those courageous peoples accomplishments, without flak jackets, weapons or massive logistical support erased from history and replaced by the derring do of the US military.

@ETpro nobody here is criticising the military so much as it’s utilisation, nobody here is spitting on their career choice or their service, or their conduct and i have criticised such behaviour in the past, it’s vile. However, Personally i would strongly dissuade anybody currently contemplating military service and being fed into a system that perpetuates one completely illegal war, illegal by the standards of the UN and one other morally dubious one, that seems to me a responsible human act.

sleepdoc's avatar

@mammal Your current argument is about the politcal use of armies. It seems to me your real beef ought to be with the politicians. They are the ones who actually give the marching orders (in the US, congress funds operations and the president orders them). Make no mistake about that. At least in the US the military leaders do not get to, of their own accord, go to war. I am sure many of them would just as soon be peacekeepers never ordering a shot fired.

As for your statement about social justice, you have to live in a place where there is the chance to be courageous to make advances such as the ones you mentioned. If you look globally, you will see that countries who can’t provide peace for their citizens never get the chance to even think about what could be. They still live with segregation, slavery, and inequality of the sexes. You are free to express your views pacifist or otherwise. Don’t get me wrong. I think that deep down you should acknowlege, even if just to yourself, that no matter what you think about the military its presence makes you safer in a world which has people who feel that showing aggresion is the only means to make change.

plethora's avatar

@mammal @sleepdoc is exactly right… military person declares a war. That is the politician’s role. The military would much prefer to train and maintain strength to avoid war. They are the ones who get killed and maimed in battle.

We do live in a world of people who would take every right you have or think you have and kill you or make you their slave. You may have enjoyed the protection of a military too long and do not realize that.

Ria777's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille: My dad was a sniper in the Marine Corp.He was a outstanding man who deserved respect and love and got it:)

my dad created a highly successful ad campaign for a tobacco company. hundreds of people died of smoking-related diseases because of him. he was an outstanding man who deserved respect and love and got it.

my dad worked as a lobbyist with the government. because of him, forests got cut down so that condominiums could go up instead. he was an outstanding man who deserved respect and love and got it.

my dad worked for the Stasi. he ensured that enemies of the state would go to jail for life. he coerced dissidents into making confessions in order to get information on other dissidents. he was an outstanding man who respect and love and got it.

plethora's avatar

@Ria777 Your point??? Your examples are totally off-topic. The military is the sole reason you can even make your points on here. If you are a pacifist, that’s fine. But don’t bite the hand that makes it possible for you to be a pacifist. @lucillelucillelucille is proud of her father and her father’s profession makes you safer in a dangerous world.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther