Via Mediaite, not until Ivan Lopez was confronted by an armed MP did he stop shooting at others and turn his gun on himself. Quote: “He was approaching her at about 20 feet. He put his hands up, then reached under his jacket, pulled out the (.45) and she pulled out her weapon and then she engaged, and he then he put the weapon to his head.”
The no-guns policy, which is normally associated with Clinton, actually dates back to Bush 41’s Defense Department. It’s lasted more than 20 years and has now survived more than one mass shooting on a military base, despite sporadic Republican attempts to undo it. At this point, what possible reason is there to deny troops the right to carry where they’re stationed? Cops are allowed to carry their sidearms inside the precinct (and take them home), no? Obviously, there’s no worry about soldiers lacking the proper training on how to safely handle a weapon. The policy seems essentially gestural: The federal government discourages American citizens from carrying concealed, so, to demonstrate its disapproval, it’s going to force its own military to do without when they’re not in combat. How’s that working out?
Here’s one argument from a veteran, who sees a huge logistical problem looming if the policy changes:
Fair enough, although that just shifts the debate from “should troops be armed on base?” to “how many troops should be armed on base?” You could grant carry privileges to some fraction based on rank or even by lottery. Another rationale, which I bet plenty of pols harbor but are loath to articulate, is the fear that vets with PTSD can’t be trusted with easy access to firearms. Studies show, however, that the link between PTSD and violence is weak. By some estimates, roughly one in five cops suffers from PTSD yet they have access to guns routinely without incident. It’d be useful to know from vets themselves how easy it is to gain access to a weapon on base if you really wanted one, since that would give us some sense of how useful the the current policy is as a deterrent. Lopez, I believe, brought his gun into Fort Hood from outside. How hard is it to do that? Is there any way to request extra firearms training, or access to the armory, if your goal was to steal a gun? The easier it is, the less sense the policy makes.
Don’t expect any changes soon, though. A Defense Department that’s considering banning tobacco sales on base isn’t going to grant its troops more substantial freedoms. Exit quotation: “We don’t have a way to protect ourselves. … We are all hostages on post.”