The Washington Times recently ran the following editorial:
Last week’s slaughter at Fort Hood Army base in Texas was no different – except that one man bears responsibility for the ugly reality that the men and women charged with defending America were deliberately left defenseless when a terrorist opened fire.
Among President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases. In March 1993, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. For the most part, only military police regularly carry firearms on base, and their presence is stretched thin by high demand for MPs in war zones.
After talking to a veteran and reviewing some forums on such matters, it seemed that the assertions in the article may not bear up under scrutiny. For example:
“I spent 23 years in the military under about 6 presidents and I can’t recall anyone walking around US bases (been through many of them on my way here and there) armed unless they were MPs or DOD cops, or troops about to deploy (in which case they would be on their way somewhere, and ,,, the live ammo would still be in the crates until they reached wherever it was they were going to use it). I don’t recall anyone strutting around with side arms just for the hell of it.”
We have finally located Army Regulation 90-114, the 1993 regulation which limits carrying of weapons for law enforcement and security personnel within military installations. Despite the Clinton administration’s limitations upon MP’s and other LEOs on base, the regulation nevertheless provides for law enforcement personnel to carry weapons to:
(1) Conduct law enforcement activities including cases or investigations of espionage, sabotage, and other serious crimes in which DA programs, personnel, or property are involved and investigations conducted in hazardous areas or under hazardous circumstances.
(2) Protect classified information, systems, or equipment.
(3) Protect the President of the United States, high ranking Government officials, DOD personnel, or foreign dignitaries.
(4) Protect DOD assets and personnel.
(5) Guard prisoners.
d. DA military and civilian personnel may be authorized to carry firearms for personal protection when the responsible intelligence center identifies a credible and specific threat against DA personnel in that regional area. Firearms will not be issued indiscriminately for
that purpose. Before individuals are authorized to carry a firearm for personal protection under this regulation, the authorizing official must evaluate—
(1) The probability of the threat in a particular location.
(2) The adequacy of support by DA or DOD protective personnel.
(3) The adequacy of protection by U.S. or host nation authorities.
(4) The effectiveness of other means to avoid personal attacks.
Thus, officers of field grade rank or higher, or civilian equivalent of GS-12 or above may authorize the carrying of firearms and the Secretary of the Army has authority to authorize carrying for personal protection within the continental United States. And yes! It is hard to believe that we don’t trust soldiers with guns on an Army base when we trust these very same men in Iraq and Afghanistan:
“In states where legal concealed carry is an accepted practice, American service members need to be allowed to carry a gun for self-defense – on post and off – because the global war on terror has changed the risk level they live with each and every day.
The global war on terror has changed the way America fights our wars and has changed the risk level our service members are forced to endure. Letting soldiers have the same rights afforded to civilians when it comes to carrying a concealed handgun is a reform that is well past due.”
See also How Many Died Because of Ban?
The Washington Times article refers to research showing that when folks are armed the damage caused in active shooter situations will be more limited. This is because a “major factor in determining how many people are harmed by these killers is the time that elapses between the launch of an attack and when someone – soldier, civilian or law enforcement – arrives on the scene with a gun to end the attack.”
The article goes on to claim that all the public shootings in the United States in which more than three people have been killed have occurred in places where concealed handguns have been banned.
A 23 year old Islamic convert killed one soldier and wounded another outside a recruiting center in a jihad attack in Little Rock, Arkansas:
A 23-year-old man upset about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan opened fire from his truck at two soldiers standing outside a military recruiting station here on Monday morning, killing one private and wounding another, the police said. According to the New York Times (June 1, 2009):
The gunman, identified by the police as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad of Little Rock, fled the scene and was arrested minutes later a short distance from the recruiting station, in a bustling suburban shopping center. The police confiscated a Russian-made SKS semiautomatic rifle, a .22-caliber rifle and a handgun from his black pickup truck.
The NYT article goes on to explain that bomb threats and vandalism against recruiting offices are not uncommon. For example, in 2008, a bomb exploded at a military recruitment center in Times Square. Thus, our troops are in as much risk at home as they are on foreign battlefields. Rather than blame it on President Clinton, we should focus on enabling soldiers and sailors to carry weapons openly on base (and openly or concealed off base as permitted by local and state laws; i.e., with a Concealed Pistol License where and when required. It even makes sense to provide some special training that will qualify personnel to carry on base. By arming more qualified personnel on and off base, the military will advance the objective of keeping our men and women safe while they protect us from our nation’s enemies.