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In the TV show, True Detective season 3, episode 4~5, Brett Woodard, while being chased by his fellow town folks, runs home and sets up several traps with grenades and a claymore anti-infantry mine.

Brett also shoots several people dead with an AK47 and M14.

Brett is a veteran of the Vietnam war, but does it mean that he can bring home any weapons he wants from battle field? It is not hard to detect hand grenades and claymore mine and automatic rifles at the airport.

How does he manage to bring home those weapons?

  • You can just buy those things - maybe not legally in all cases. He wouldn’t have had to have brought them home from war with him. Anyone with a license can legally buy an M14 and an AK-47 in the US. The explosives not so much, but there are ways to buy such things if you really want to. – Todd Wilcox Feb 6 at 14:01
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Using the word can suggests that someone is allowed to do something. Do implies that they either weren't asking permission, or did it despite someone saying don't. I am relatively certain that veterans have been told don't take weapons home with you. And my personal life experiences confirms that many soldiers (throughout history) have arrived home with (at least) a handgun, regardless of what they were told.

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    In addition it might be worth to consider the difference between what we can now and what we could when the Vietnam war ended (that is quite a few years ago). Checks might also have been harder to conduct as some of the soldiers were probably expected to carry a number of these things. – Henrik Feb 5 at 7:19
  • Can == is able to. May == is permitted to. That you can bring weapons home does not in itself imply that you may. To do so without permission is still possible in theory, so long as you're not caught doing so. – Tetsujin Feb 5 at 8:20
  • Isn't a handgun considered part of the soldier's uniform/kit? Non-US experience here but the men in my family who've been in the army were allowed/expected to take their handgun with them. Obviously not rifles, claymores, or anything else though. – Flater Feb 5 at 10:58
  • @Tetsujin Fair enough. Can does speak more to ability, or perhaps opportunity, than permission. – elbrant Feb 5 at 14:47
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    @Flater Handguns are assigned to a soldier, rather than "given". The same handgun is reassigned to another soldier when you leave. Do soldiers keep their service weapons... – elbrant Feb 5 at 14:56

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