US veteran and hunter becomes gun control advocate

An avid hunter and ex-soldier who knows how to handle a weapon, Vic Bencomo has a new preoccupation: tightening gun regulation in the United States, where firearms take tens of thousands of lives a year.

The final straw came, the 45-year-old Iraq War veteran says, when he found himself having to cope with former brothers in arms dying by suicide after returning from the battlefield.

"I'm... sitting and watching the atrocities that are occurring in the United States every single day," Bencomo, who now works in computing and lives in Colorado, told AFP.

"It just was a tipping point -- I stopped wanting to be a couch critic, and I actually decided to stand up and do something."

Around 6,000 US veterans take their own lives annually but many of those deaths are preventable, according to Bencomo, who spent 22 years in the Navy. "I believe that if we have proper gun legislation in place, that will help save lives," said the veteran, who taught his sons to shoot when they were infants and takes them pheasant and deer hunting.

In January, Bencomo helped set up Colorado Gun Owners for Safety, which has the backing of Democratic former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived being shot in the head in a 2011 mass shooting. - AFP



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