A major shooting Wednesday at Fort Hood in Texas, the second in less than five years, already is prompting calls to allow soldiers to be armed on military bases in the U.S.
One of the many urging change is an active-duty master sergeant at Fort Hood who also is president of the board for Open Carry Texas, which was organized to educate Texans about their right to openly carry rifles and shotguns in a safe manner.
Present Department of Defense regulations generally prohibit soldiers from being armed on military installations unless they are part of an official security or police detail.
But Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham pointed out in a WND commentary Thursday that there have been nearly two dozen shootings at military bases since the policy went into effect, including the 2009 attack at the same Texas post that killed 14 people, including an unborn baby. Maj. Nidal Hasan reportedly launched the attack with a shout of “Allahu akbar,” or “Allah is supreme.”
Grisham pointed out that all of the shootings took place in “gun-free zones.”
“Every single one of these shootings happened at a place where the very people trained to deal with armed attackers were defenseless against an armed attacker,” he said.
Grisham acknowledged that no one “can say for certain these incidents would disappear were soldiers allowed to carry personal firearms.”
“However, it can be said with a certainty that any future tragedy will be executed unopposed as long as soldiers are not at least given the opportunity to defend themselves,” he argued. “There’s a saying that it’s better to have a gun and not need it, than not have a gun and need it.”
He noted the calls to allow soldiers to carry weapons on bases typically come after a shooting.
“After every one of these tragedies, we as a nation wring our collective hands trying to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent the next shooting. And each time, the simple idea of allowing troops to carry concealed firearms never seems to cross our minds. Why not?”
Others on Thursday were asking the same question.
“When our soldiers are unarmed, they will find themselves in a situation like yesterday and in 2009,” Sgt. Howard Ray told Fox News. He survived the 2009 shooting by Hasan, who was convicted and sentenced to death.
The Fox News report also noted that Army Secretary John McHugh said such violence is a “threat across the entire Army.”
The alleged shooter, Army Spc. Ivan A. Lopez, had been under treatment but had yet to be diagnosed officially with PTSD.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the rules need changing.
“We need to harden our military bases so this can’t happen, and one possible way to do that isi to allow our veterans and active-duty military … to carry weapons,” he told Fox News.
“I guarantee if they had … they could have stopped this guy almost immediately.”
Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot seven times by Hasan in 2009, told Fox News that being allowed to carry a weapon on the military post is a deterrent.
Grisham noted that the worst shootings in the nation have happened at “gun-free zones” – the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that killed 26, the Columbine shooting in 1999 that left another dozen dead and the Virginia Tech shooting that killed 32.
His beliefs about gun control were formed when he was in school, because of the Luby’s massacre in Killeen, Texas, in which 23 people were killed.
“Originally hailing from Temple, Texas, the Luby’s shooting hit home for me. I was only in high school at the time, but recognizing that a member of my family could have been in that restaurant on Oct. 16, 1991, I was acutely aware of the impact that shooting had on my stance on gun control,” he said.
In Wednesday’s shooting, Lopez allegedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot.
President Obama took a few minutes from his current fundraising trip to comment.
“Any shooting is troubling. Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. … We’re heartbroken that something like this might have happened again. … The folks there have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom. Many of the people there have been on multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve with valor; they serve with distinction. And when they’re at their home base they need to feel safe. We don’t yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again. And we’re going to have to find out exactly what happened.”
The motive of the latest shooting remain unclear, but the government declared that Hasan’s murder spree was “workplace violence.”
Hasan claimed he was acting to protect Islamic insurgents from American aggression, and emails he had been exchanging with terrorists eventually were uncovered.
The worst shooting toll to date has been the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, when Seung-Hui Cho, a senior, killed 32 and wounded another 17. Cho previously had been diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder, but state rules there allowed him to purchase weapons. Campus rules prohibited weapons, however.
Grisham noted that “right this second, virtually every soldiers in Afghanistan is carrying a loaded weapon.”
“Yet, in spite of the prevalence of firearms in the hands of nearly every single troop in a stressful combat environment, the existence of fratricide is practically non-existent,” he said.
Grisham said it would be “the height of hypocrisy to suggest that soldiers are more or less capable of managing their emotions with a firearm in one environment over another.”
“The fact remains that in spite of the 1993 regulation and policy [against being armed], service members are carrying guns onto military installations and killing unarmed victims; victims that may have had a chance to live if they were permitted an opportunity to defend themselves,” he said.
“How many more of my brothers and sisters must die before we, as a nation, wake up and put an end to these ironically titled ‘gun free zones’?! How many more examples of innocent, unarmed citizens being slaughtered by men with evil intent must we endure? Why do we disarm the very people who are the most well-trained in the use of firearms in defensive and offensive situations?”