Governors across the United States are starting to do their best to protect National Guardsmen by logically ordering them to be armed. Governors Greg Abbott, Asa Hutchinson, and Mike Pence have all issued orders on the topic after the killing of four Marines and one sailor in Tennessee. Governors Rick Scott, Bobby Jindal, and Mary Fallin’s orders are similar, but only cover qualified full-time guardsmen. Abbott’s order is the least hyperbolic and political of the orders.
It is with a heavy heart that I issue this order. After the recent shooting in Chattanooga, it has become clear that our military personnel must have the ability to defend themselves against these type of attacks on our own soil. Arming the National Guard at these bases will not only serve as a deterrent to anyone wishing to do harm to our service men and women, but will enable them to protect those living and working on the base.
It makes sense to arm National Guardsmen and military on base and at recruiting stations. They probably should have been armed after the Fort Hood attack in 2009. Why these orders haven’t been considered before is a little ludicrous. But the federal government doesn’t appear to be willing to do this. Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno said Friday he believed it could cause more harm than good.
I think we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves, and I’m not talking about where you end up attacking each other….accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries.
He has a point because the military is full of humans who make mistakes. Accidental discharges will happen. But it seems rather shortsighted to claim that’s why guns shouldn’t be made available on base. It’s a lot like the arguments the Moms Demand crowd makes. It’s always possible to have soldiers living on base have their guns locked in a barracks safe every night. Or require them to not have base firearms when they go out drinking with their buddies. That seems a little logical. Odierno may consider this, but it depends on what the rest of the Pentagon does. Odierno claims part of the reason why troops can’t be armed on base has to do with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. That made it illegal for the military to be used in executing laws.
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
The only way that could become an issue would be at a National Guard or military recruiting station in a mall or shopping center. The guards on duty might consider getting involved if there were a robbery or shootout of some kind. But this is only speculation and there’s no guarantee that would happen. So for Odierno to cite this as a reason seems like passing the buck. The Posse Comitatus Act has nothing to do with personal safety, but about preventing the appearance of martial law. It was passed at the end of Reconstruction following the election of Rutherford B. Hayes. Democrats wanted to make sure federal troops wouldn’t be used in law enforcement because they swarmed the South after the Civil War. This isn’t what those calling for arming Guardsman are pushing for. They simply want to keep tragedies like what happened in Tennessee from happening again. It’s doubtful armed Guardsmen would be walking around with fully loaded automatics, like German airport security. That’s overkill. It seems more logical to let Guardsmen and the military carry sidearms when they’re on base and at recruiting posts. The same logic applied to allowing civilians to carry firearms should be used for Guardsman and the military. There are only so many police and base police officers out there.