Disarmed: Gun Control on Military Bases (And Why it Must End)

His name is of no consequence; it is the names of the dead we should burn into our memories. On November 5, 2009, he ruthlessly slaughtered 13 people and wounded 30 more. He would have killed more if not for the actions of two police officers who shot him when he exited the building where his rampage began. Afterwards, 146 spent casings were collected inside the building and 68 were collected outside for a total of 214 rounds fired by a man who described himself as a Soldier of Allah and openly admitted his Muslim faith was the reason behind the murders. 214 rounds, all of which were fired from an FN Five-Seven, a handgun chambered in 5.7x28mm, a cartridge designed as a higher terminal performance replacement for the 9x19mm, with a standard 20-round mag. The entire incident lasted about 10 minutes, and as many of you are aware, it took place at Fort Hood. So how did an active shooter cut down 13 people and one unborn child, only two of which were civilians, and injure more than 30 others, uninterrupted, until base civilian police reached the scene? It’s easy when you’ve got a base full of unarmed soldiers.

The Why

Contrary to popular belief, blame for the current gun-free state of military bases across the country cannot be placed squarely on former President Bill Clinton’s shoulders. In February of 1992, Donald J. Atwood, then-deputy secretary of defense, signed Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 5210.56 into effect. You might notice the year – 1992 – signifying Atwood did that while President George H.W. Bush was in office. That’s right, removing firearms from the hands of soldiers while they’re stateside got its start while the elder Bush was president.

DoD Directive 5210.56 states that it’s DoD policy to “limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel.” It goes on to say “DoD personnel regularly engaged in law enforcement or security duties shall be armed.” And while it got its start under George H.W. Bush, it was heavily modified by Bill Clinton in 1993. The changes were, in fact, so extreme they didn’t even bother highlighting altered portions. The result was Army Regulation 190-14, which was signed into effect in March of 1993 – and reinforced in 2011, and now we have a bunch of trained soldiers running around on post with no greater weapon than a sharp wit.

Some soldiers who have been serving for decades say there was never a time service members walked around constantly armed; however, up until 1992 that choice was left up to each base commander. One Army veteran stationed in the South during the Vietnam era was not only allowed but encouraged to carry on post while another soldier who lived on post in the 1980’s often stashed his .30-06 in his barracks locker; it was simply ignored during inspection. Yes, the rules varied, but guns weren’t effectively banned until 1992.

The When and Where

The rash of shootings on bases began immediately after: in June of 1994, an airman killed four people and wounded 23 at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, WA, before being stopped by a security officer; in March of 1995, a civilian Navy employee killed two and then shot himself at Naval Air Systems Command in Arlington, VA; in October of 1995 a soldier killed one person and wounded 18 at Fort Bragg, N.C. The list goes on, with shootings gaining speed as the years pass. Most don’t make the mainstream media, or are a blurb at best, but they do happen. Of course, that’s not to say they never happened before.

In 1973, at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, a man killed two and wounded three; his motive was purportedly displeasure at the hospital care his wife had received days earlier. Surely there have been others, but finding evidence of them is difficult, due only partly to the storage of information; it’s mostly due to the lack thereof. Because, you see, before guns were banned on military bases, shootings weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are now. So why don’t we arm service members?

The military seems to have a habit of writing their policies according to the foolishness of the bottom 10%. And while some gun-control supporters accurately state there is a level of immaturity and idiocy that takes place in the barracks – and I challenge you to prove that one false – that doesn’t mean service members shouldn’t be armed while going about their business on base. Just because there is some truth to the collaborative effects of testosterone doesn’t mean guns should be banned. That’s not unlike enacting strict gun control measures on the general population due to the actions of a few morons – oh, wait, that’s happening, too.

Leaving service members unarmed on base turns them into easy targets not only for extremists like the 2009 Fort Hood shooter turned out to be but also for those with hair-trigger tempers, horrifically bad judgment, and murderous tendencies. Trusting soldiers with heavy firepower while they’re deployed and then turning around and informing them they can’t be trusted with a slingshot stateside is a dose of irony you’d think everyone would see. But they don’t.

The Gun Control Facts – Just the Facts

Gun control has been around for quite some time. In 1837, Georgia took a shot at banning handguns, which didn’t get very far before it was ruled unconstitutional and thrown out. And let’s not forget the 1865 attempt by multiple southern states to adopt “black codes” that forbade many things including allowing anyone black to own a firearm. In 1927 Congress banned the mailing of concealed weapons, and, of course, in 1934 the National Firearms Act was passed, enacting strict regulation of guns considered too dangerous for the average American to own. So perhaps it’s really no surprise we’ve landed at this point where gun control is steadily increasing while rights shrink accordingly.

There are practically endless statistics supporting the fact that carrying guns has a suppressive effect on crime rates.

  • After Chicago enacted their handgun ban in 1982, crime spiked by 40%, and police eventually admitted that, despite the handgun ban, a full 96% of firearms-related murders in Chicago were carried out by, you guessed it, handguns.
  • During Washington, D.C.’s, extreme gun ban, the murder rate enjoyed a whopping 73% increase.
  • And if you’d like to leave the country, take a look at the U.K., where the average citizen flat-out cannot get a gun. The U.K. not only has a higher per capita violent crime rate than the U.S. but has the highest of all first-world wealthy nations, except for Australia, which is quite a mess itself.

Conversely, in Texas, where the legal age to carry a concealed handgun became 21 years old for civilians and 18 years old for active duty service members in the mid-1990’s, crime began to drop immediately following the right-to-carry law being recognized. In fact, Texas enjoyed and continues to enjoy a 30% reduction in crime and a 28% lower murder rate than the national average since the day that law went into action. Legal gun owners stop more than twice as many criminals as police each year and also have a less than 2% error rate compared to law enforcement’s 11% error rate. And criminals have a healthy fear of legally-wielded guns, too; 57% of criminals admit avoiding situations where they know someone has a gun. There’s no need to say it, because the numbers make it clear: legally owned handguns are a deterrent to crime.

Those concerned that suicide rates would rise if firearms were more readily available on military bases also don’t know their statistics. According to studies carried out by none other than the Department of Justice and the Pew Research Center, the suicide rate is something else that drops with increased gun rights. The cold, hard truth is that someone determined to commit suicide will find a way, such as the veteran who opted for death-by-police earlier this month. It’s a deeply heartbreaking fact that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and the facts do not support a higher suicide rate coinciding with legal gun ownership and increased concealed carry.

The How

Stopping what is an alarming increase in military base shootings is really quite simple: arm the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen. Yes, limit it to those with the proper training and credentials, but do it. Doesn’t it make sense to allow those who already possess concealed carry permits to make use of those permits on base? And if there are proficiency concerns, because it’s certainly true military handgun training is on the limited side for most service members, then either increase training across the board or implement the same training requirements for those who wish to carry on base that are required for MPs and other security personnel. There’s no need to suddenly allow guns in the barracks for the aforementioned reasons ascribed to that bottom 10%; simply allow service members living in the barracks to check their weapons out of the armory either during the day or while they’re working. The checkout system wouldn’t be unlike the way a soldier living in the barracks today checks a personal firearm out of the armory to go plinking. That should keep the naysayers at least somewhat pacified.

Is this a perfect solution? There’s really no such thing as perfect. In a perfect world, a soldier on post here in the States would be allowed to tote their rifle around just like they did in Afghanistan, but heaven forbid we do that. After all, we wouldn’t want civilians to think soldiers use guns; that would be a disaster of epic proportions. In fact, in 1992 the desire for a “more business-like environment” was stated as a motivating factor behind DoD Directive 5210.56.

Here’s the problem with that: The military shouldn’t be business-like; there’s nothing polite about war. The so-called “hearts and minds” campaign being so heavily pushed in recent years is responsible for the maiming, crippling, and deaths of countless service members, and fussing over tattoo regs and tightening the noose of boot requirements just takes attention away from what really matters. We do not have a military because we need thousands of tattoo-free men and women doing paperwork. We have a military because we need defenders, protectors, and fighters, because the threat is real, and danger does lurk around every corner. Our nation has numerous enemies, and if there’s one thing that holds true for bad guys, it’s their lack of playing by the rules. You don’t see homicidal shooters respecting the “no guns on base” rule. And wringing our hands and claiming we don’t know what to do – or blatantly lying by claiming there have only been “a few” military base shootings in the last five years (I counted 17 before stopping and moving on) – isn’t just ridiculous, it’s willful blindness.

[quote_right]”The military shouldn’t be business-like; there’s nothing polite about war.”[/quote_right]Author David Gemmel said “The truth. Men will blind themselves with hot irons, rather than face it.” Here is the truth: shootings of all kinds have significantly, dramatically increased since the on-base gun ban of 1992. The solution is simple: allow open and concealed carry on military bases. It’s not even an over-simplification, its basic logic. It is absolutely, unequivocally true that the only thing that’s going to stop bad guys with guns is making sure our good guys have guns. Just as crime rates drastically drop in areas where concealed carry is allowed, on-base shootings will decrease, and our service members will be safer. The idea that they’re safer at a base in a war zone than on base stateside is a travesty.

Just follow the K.I.S.S. rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Guns belong in the hands of soldiers; it’s the way of war, and the way of the military overall. Do you really believe service members should be safer on a base in a war zone than on a base stateside? Give them guns. Give them guns, and be done with it.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine is a military and political journalist with a reputation for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred articles. Her career as a writer has immersed her in the military lifestyle and given her unique insights into the various branches of service. She is a firearms aficionado and has years of experience as a K9 SAR handler, and has volunteered with multiple support-our-troops charities for more than a decade. Katherine is passionate about military issues and feels supporting service members should be the top priority for all Americans. Her areas of expertise include the military, politics, history, firearms and canine issues.

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