‘‘The smell of the gunpowder, the flash from the gun, the sight, the sound,’’ Croft said. ‘‘All of that can trigger a response ... that the person’s not aware of.’’
Croft said he considered gun therapy a ‘‘bad idea in the main,’’ although he acknowledged that target shooting could be a welcome diversion for some people. He also pointed to the high rate of veteran suicides — estimated at about 22 a day.
‘‘I believe that until treatment occurs, being around guns is probably not a good idea,’’ Croft said.
Rieckhoff said he was worried about veterans’ illnesses being painted with a broad brush after Kyle’s death, adding that more research and more programs to treat veterans were necessary. Guns might be a part of that discussion, he added, but were neither a panacea nor a huge danger.
‘‘We’re not going to just start handing out guns to everybody and say, ‘Hey, this is going to help you with PTSD,’ any more than we would hand out dogs or medication,’’ Rieckhoff said.
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking in Washington and Chris Sherman in McAllen, Texas, contributed to this report.
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