NYT: Fort Hood does virtually nothing to stop people from bringing guns onto the base

So it’s like every other “gun-free zone,” basically. Anyone who can be trusted with a weapon can’t have one, and anyone who can’t be trusted will have little trouble ignoring the rule. Makes sense.

Here’s the answer to my question yesterday about how useful the current ban on guns inside military bases is in keeping them out.

At Fort Hood, which sprawls for 340 square miles over the Texas prairie, Specialist Lopez was being treated for behavioral and mental health issues. To enter the base, he would have undergone no security screening beyond showing his identification and would have passed through no metal detectors.

Military personnel who are not police officers are not allowed to carry privately owned weapons on Army bases. Soldiers on post must register their firearms, which Army officials said Specialist Lopez failed to do with the handgun he used in the attack. Fort Hood’s rules rely in large part on the honor system, and require all personnel bringing a privately owned firearm onto the base in a vehicle to declare that they are doing so and state why…

Dan Corbin, the mayor of Killeen and a Vietnam veteran, said on Thursday that it would be impossible to prevent unauthorized weapons from being brought onto the base.

“If you were to search every one of those cars thoroughly enough, think of how many man hours this would take,” Mr. Corbin said. “Think of all the cars backed up for miles to get in. People would have to leave for work four hours in advance. You do what you do now, which are things like random checks and checking for IDs. If you are a soldier and you have your ID and a Fort Hood sticker on your car, you are in and you could conceivably carry in guns.”

If you’re going to do so little to prevent firearms from being brought in from outside, why not lift the ban altogether? Not only did Nidal Hasan and Ivan Lopez defy the ban with ease, Lopez actually ended up buying his weapon at the same gun store as Hasan. The shootings themselves took place in the same general area on the base. There’s actually a standard M.O. now if you want to shoot a bunch of people at Fort Hood. That … doesn’t feel like a successful policy. The risk of letting law-abiding soldiers bring guns onto base is that it’ll raise the odds of a malefactor stealing one of those guns to shoot up the place, which would allow him to sidestep the background check involved in buying a weapon from a gun shop. On the other hand, anyone who wouldn’t pass a background check shouldn’t be on the base in the first place, and lifting the ban would raise the odds that he’d be stopped sooner than Hasan or Lopez was by a bystander who’s carrying. It was, is, and will remain hard to understand why people who are professionally trained to handle firearms safely have fewer gun rights than many civilians.

Makes me wonder whether the Supreme Court’s revolution in Second Amendment jurisprudence won’t ultimately include a case brought by a soldier stationed on a base who wants to keep a gun in his residence for protection. The odds against him in court would be 100-1 at least: When it comes to soldiers’ civil rights, SCOTUS defers heavily to the Pentagon. But as the Times points out, Fort Hood is essentially a small city; it runs for hundreds of square miles and has tens of thousands of residents. If the Second Amendment protects a city-dweller’s right to have a gun in his home (and, maybe, protects his right to carry in certain circumstances), does it protect a soldier’s right to have a gun in his home at Fort Hood for self-defense? If the base is doing next to nothing to keep people from bringing unauthorized guns inside, why not?

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