Seven years have gone by since Nidal Hassan killed 14 unarmed people at Fort Hood in the first lone-wolf terror attack on military personnel in the US. Finally, the Department of Defense has changed its policy to allow our armed services to be … y’know … armed. Military Times reporter Jeffrey Schogol wrote about the change of policy yesterday that will allow commanders in the field clear authority to allow concealed carry of firearms by recruiters and other personnel (via Twitchy):
U.S. military personnel can now request to carry concealed handguns for protection at government facilities, according to new Defense Department directive issued last week in response to a series of deadly shootings over the last seven years.
While service members already were authorized to carry weapons as part of specific job responsibilities, the new policy allows them to apply to carry their privately owned firearms “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties,” the directive says. …
The effort began after the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, where former Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. It accelerated after the July 2015 attacks on a recruiting station and Navy reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That incident claimed the lives of four Marines and a sailor. Both lone-wolf attacks were believed to be inspired by international terrorism.
Schogol only mentions those two attacks and a third shooting last year which involved a personal dispute. There have been other terror attacks attempted against military installations here in the US, however. In 2009, a convert to Islam who had traveled to Yemen shot two soldiers at an Army recruiting station in Arkansas, killing one of them in the drive-by attack. Carlos Bledsoe had been arrested in Yemen just months earlier attempting to travel to Somalia to wage jihad there. Another plot in 2015 inspired by ISIS got foiled before two cousins could carry out an attack on a National Guard center.
In fact, the FBI warned the Pentagon almost exactly two years ago of the threat to military personnel stationed in the US as well as abroad:
The FBI on Sunday issued the strongest warning to date about possible attacks by the ISIS terrorist group against the U.S. military inside the homeland, officials tell ABC News.
In a joint intelligence bulletin issued overnight by the FBI with the Department of Homeland Security, officials strongly urged those who serve in uniform to scrub their social media accounts of anything that might bring unwanted attention from “violent extremists” or would help the extremists learn individual service members’ identities.
“The FBI and DHS recommend that current and former members of the military review their online social media accounts for any information that might serve to attract the attention of ISIL [ISIS] and its supporters,” the federal bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies said, advising that troops “routinely exercise operational security in their interactions online.”
Scrubbing social-media accounts of geolocators and family information is not bad advice, but … we don’t hide most military installations in the US, and certainly not our recruiting stations. The DoD should have acted with alacrity at this warning to remove the restrictions on personal carry by military personnel at those locations. After all, we expect these men and women to have trained well enough to defend themselves long before they get assigned to these locations. Why wouldn’t they be allowed to carry under most conditions, let alone when this particular threat risk is both known and this acute?
Better late than never, but in this case, it’s pretty damned late.