Marine held in Mexico on weapons charges says he felt vulnerable without guns

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LOS ANGLES — Marine reservist Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who spent 214 days behind bars in Mexico on weapons charges, says he often carried guns because felt vulnerable and threatened since leaving active duty.

Tahmooressi, in an interview Thursday night with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, said that after leaving active duty it has been difficult transitioning to the civilian community from the Marine Corps.

“And it’s easy to go from there to the civilian world carrying a gun around because, you know, you feel like … people are after you,” Tahmooressi said. “And it’s just a different world from there to here. It’s a totally different world.”

Tahmooressi, 25, did two combat tours in Afghanistan. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and had moved to San Diego to get treatment for PTSD at the Veterans Affairs hospital in La Jolla.

Marines “have guns on them all the time,” he said. “Our gun is our safety. So when you get here and you’re vulnerable … because you have all your boys there in the Marine Corps with you, and you’re all protecting each other, and then you get out here and you’re all by yourself.”

A Mexican judge Oct. 31 ordered charges against Tahmooressi dismissed so that he could return to the U.S. and receive treatment for PTSD. Within hours he was on a private flight with his mother, Jill, to their home in Florida.

Tahmooressi was arrested April 1 on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro border crossing. He had a shotgun, a rifle, a pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his pickup truck.

From the beginning, Tahmooressi insisted that he had driven across the border by mistake after missing the last turnoff to remain in the U.S. and had no intention to sell the weapons.

Dozens of U.S. politicians had called for his release. Van Susteren had also called for his release and did dozens of reports on the case.

Guns have always been part of his life, Tahmooressi said.

“I enjoy guns,” he said. “You know, I grew up liking guns. I had a BB gun when I was a dad. I shot trap with my sister and taught my sister how to shoot trap

“It’s like, you’re stressed out and some people go and smoke a cigarette but some people go to the gun range and go shoot their gun and relieve some tension.”

Still, after his ordeal in Mexico, he said, his attitude toward guns may change.

“I don’t even think I’m going to have any more guns, to be honest,” he said. “I might not. I might just have a gun stored away in a range if you guys still allow me to..”

In an hourlong interview in which he discussed the maltreatment he received in Mexico, Tahmooressi talked about his plans.

“A job would help,” he said. “Getting busy would help, you know, doing productive things would help, It’s not just going to see a doctor, it’s doing good things, you, and good things for other people.

“Being busy and just helping out.”

Story by Tony Perry of Los Angeles Times