After Wednesday’s horrific shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, a congressman tells WND soldiers have pleaded with him to help them arm and defend themselves against attackers on military bases.
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.
The deadly shooting this week leaves several grieving families, a community deeply wounded for the second time in recent years and Washington once again debating whether military personnel ought to be able to carry guns while on military bases.
However, opposition from the Obama administration and disinterest from a Congress bracing for midterm elections mean nothing is likely to change soon.
After last September’s murders at the Washington Navy Yard, Texas Rep. Steve Stockman introduced the Safe Military Bases Act. He said Wednesday’s killings are just further proof the men and women tasked with defending our nation should be able to arm themselves on the job.
“They’re trained. They’re experienced, and we trust them to fend off evildoers and other people trying to attack our nation. This would reinstate that right to carry a weapon,” said Stockman about his legislation.
“For 20 years, they lost that right. Since those 20 years have ensued, we’ve had killings on the base. I can assure you, in Texas, had this individual [gone] out in a public area and tried to do that, there would have been many Texans who would have returned fire.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, below:
Service members had that freedom until a 1992 Department of Defense rules change. It was initiated in the George H.W. Bush administration and took effect in the early weeks of the Clinton administration.
"The comments I'm hearing from people that supported that was primarily that (the soldiers) are young people and they shouldn't have guns on base. The ironic thing is since we have the ban in place, we've had more deaths because people see it as a soft target and they want to make a statement because Fort Hood is one of the largest bases in the nation. It's a soft target and easy to shoot because everybody's disarmed," he said.
Stockman said he is finding more members interested in co-sponsoring his legislation following Wednesday's killings, but he confesses getting the Obama administration on board will be virtually impossible.
"This administration is always for more gun control. I don't think there's a situation in which he [thinks] that more gun control is bad. Obama, I think, clearly articulates that nobody would have a weapon. The only people who would have weapons is the IRS agents and people like that," Stockman said.
Following the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he did not favor lifting the ban on arming soldiers while on bases.
"I believe that we have our military police and others that are armed, and I believe that's appropriate. I think I believe that allows us the level of protection necessary," said Odierno under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who strongly suggested he wanted to reverse the ban.
Stockman said Odierno's response is a political statement and may not even reflect his true feelings, much less the members of our military.
The congressman says even he didn't fully understand that until fellow Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, a U.S. Navy veteran, briefed him on why presidential appointees in the military take public positions that may come as a surprise.
"I brought this very issue up to him. He said, 'Steve, he works for the commander in chief. He's not going to contradict what the commander in chief says. He's being a good soldier and restating the policy.' I think if you listen to him in that clip, he really is very much demure in what he's saying. It's not an emphatic statement. It's more almost factual as opposed to his own opinion," Stockman said.
But the congressman also points out that the Obama administration is not the only hurdle. He said election-year politics also make this an issue many members don't want to touch.
"I think in this mode of Congress, in which we're now turning to elections, I don't think that will become a paramount issue. But I think as time goes on and more people are injured, this is going to seem more like a rational thought. They try to demonize it as irrational, but it actually is very rational," said Stockman just moments after the House of Representatives held a moment of silence on Thursday.
"When we walked out of the building just now – I just voted – there were three people there with fully automatic weapons that could kill a lot of people. If we as congressmen expect to be protected, I would think that we should allow our soldiers no less but to allow them to protect themselves," he said.
While political leaders in Washington may be hesitant to take up the issue, Stockman said the service members with whom he has spoken are very clear about what they want:
"Most of them say to me, 'Please don't use my name. I don't want to get in trouble, but ...' and then they go on to say, 'This is crazy. Please let us have the right to defend ourselves.' I think that the ones that were lost yesterday, I wish they had the right to protect themselves."
As WND reported earlier, 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.
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 by Maj. Nidal Hasan at the same Texas post that killed 14 people, including an unborn baby.
Grisham pointed out that all of the shootings took place in “gun-free zones.”
He said, “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."
Gohmert: Unarmed soldiers 'ridiculous'
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, joined those calling for a congressional solution.
"It is abundantly clear something needs to be done to protect our men and women in the United States military," he said in an interview with TruthRevolt. "Just as we have seen repeatedly in mass shootings in civilian or military areas, shooters normally go to areas where concealed weapons are not allowed."
"Soldiers should have a concealed carry permit process as well as the ability to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon on a military installation. It seems ridiculous to forbid people from getting a concealed carry permit who are qualified to use weapons on that installation," he said.
Officials with Gun Owners of America called members of the military unarmed by rules and regulations "sitting ducks."
"How is it that a concealed carry holder shopping at Wal-Mart has more rights than our soldiers who are trained with firearms," asked GOA Director of Communications Erich Pratt.
The group called for support for Stockman's plan.
"Those who are on the front lines support putting guns in the hands of potential victims," Pratt said.
Firearms instructor calls for change
John Farnam, who heads Defense Training International and is an instructor at U.S. Marine Base Quantico, told WND that there is a new threat to American military bases.
“Who is going to protect all these defenseless, unarmed members of our so-called 'armed' services from gun-wielding lunatics?” Farnam asked.
He said that the solution is “too obvious,” making it “once again, ignored completely by the promotion-conscious up our military food-chain.”
“All officers and staff NCOs (non-commissioned officers) need to be armed all the time, on-base and off, concealed or openly,” Farnam said. “However, star-wearers are far more concerned about embarrassing, career-wounding (events) than they ever will be about dangers represented by armed madmen.”
Farnam’s training program is oriented toward giving trainees experience in carrying loaded firearms in a safe manner, ready to use when needed.
He said, however, that no one seems to want to train anyone in the art of actually carrying loaded guns on a routine basis.
“Big police department headquarters buildings are filled with armed men and women, and, yes, we have an incident now and then. But, we stay armed, and move on,” Farnam said.
Since the Fort Hood massacre in 2009, Farnam said nothing has changed.
"‘Gun-free zone’ signs are still contemptuously ignored by violent criminals," Farnam said. "The nerve of them! “Our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen are still defenseless sitting ducks.”
“As a nation, we are finally confronting the stark truth that we must have armed teachers in schools to protect children, but we still can’t face the idea of armed soldiers protecting themselves!” Farnam said. “Only in America!”