The facts are still coming in. Next of Kin are still being notified. Thankfully the “T” word isn’t being avoided.
I have some sad predictions. As soon as the authorities announce the type of rifle Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez used to murder four unarmed Marines the anti-gun community will revisit their attempts to limit American’s right to own such firearms. The fact that over ten times more kids drown in pools than Americans die by rifle fire will have zero impact on the anti-gun effort.
Even sadder is that after a Soldier was killed outside an Arkansas Army recruiting station, 14 Soldiers died on Ft Hood (both incidents in 2009) and 12 Americans were shot dead at the Washington Navy Yard (2013) we still have a largely unknown and ridiculous requirement that service members are overwhelmingly unarmed.
Military bases, armories and military recruiting offices are gun free zones! Based on acreage and crime rate they are less policed and patrolled than the average neighborhood yet are among the most likely targets. Sure military bases and armories have firearms locked behind double metal doors but there is largely NO, ZERO, “NADA” live ammunition stored with those weapons. Live ammo is typically delivered and distributed on the range it is to be fired upon. There was a time where an arms room holding hundreds of firearms might have ONE magazine of live ammo in a locked ammo box in the arms room to “secure” the weapons in the event someone tried to steal them when the arms room is opened. That requirement hasn’t increased and is likely to have gone the opposite direction. Further, troops DO NOT have access to their firearms on a daily basis unless they are in the field.
Here’s a short primer on arms room opening etiquette from my limited experience. (It may surprise one to know most troops don’t even know what it takes to open the arms room.) WHEN a unit has scheduled training requiring weapons (not necessary for medical, communications, land navigation, classroom instruction etc.), the unit sends an authorized person on the access list (typically the armorer) to the higher headquarters to pick up a locked box with the arms room keys inside. The access list is limited to about six people per company, usually the officers, 1SGT and unit armorer. Headquarters can range from a couple of hundred yards to a mile away. Once at the HQ, the senior duty officer calls the unit and gets a code from another person on the access list authorizing the arms room key box to be surrendered to the authorized person. The box is returned to the unit where another key opens it up and the arms room is opened after a call to the post police warning them that the arms room is about to be opened (with another code sequence) so the MP’s don’t show up. The arms room is then opened. Weapons in the arms room are stored in locked rifle racks chained to the floor. Every weapon is counted before any are issued.
Unit commanders don’t leave for the day while the arms room is closed. Arms rooms aren’t closed until every weapon is accounted for by serial number. That may include a call to a maintenance unit repairing a weapon or a report from a unit spending the night in the field that all weapons are present. Periodically, (at least every week or two depending on how often the arms room is opened) a full serial number inventory is conducted requiring an officer, a couple of NCO’s and the armorer’s presence to physically read aloud every serial number. It takes a couple of hours. Basically the system is set up so that one person is never alone with the weapons and everything is accounted for by serial number before and after opening the arms room. The laborious process described above is why arms rooms are opened very purposely.
Now in an emergency, doors can be yanked open by chains pulled by a truck, locks can be cut (the primary lock used on an arms room door is not going to be cut by the average bolt cutter) and rifles issued. All that is irrelevant. It doesn’t create ammunition that’s not stored at the unit. Bottom line is the troop is unarmed the majority of the time when in garrison.
Over the last two decades personal possession of a weapon on base or while on duty has been increasingly limited. Typically, post commanders would clamp down on gun ownership after any event on base or around base involving a troop and a firearm. Today troops are required to register every gun they have at the base MP station. Those firearms are not authorized to be transported on base unless they are registered, unloaded in a case separate from the driver and even then, only to go to a civilian range. Firearms cannot be stored in a vehicle temporarily while going to the range. A concealed carry permit is not honored on a military base. Being caught with a personal firearm in violation of the above regulations is a career ender.
Active duty bases are largely secured with military police or DoD police, a phone call away. National Guard & Reserve armories and their small bases almost overwhelmingly have no armed security. General officers have a personal security detail and sometimes their aide is armed. The previous Secretaries of Defense have rejected the need to arm additional troops or allow any troops the authority to carry their own personally owned weapons concealed. The current Secretary of Defense who also has a personal security detail, called the events in Chattanooga a “senseless act of violence” and a “heinous crime.”
We are not learning the lesson that gun free zones are havens for murderous psychos like Aurora Colorado or Newtown Connecticut. We’ve had four attacks on military facilities the largest gun free zones in the country. I don’t have much hope that we’ll apply common sense and allow trained troops to carry weapons overseas, to do so here.
What’s supremely ironic is those troops are more secure off the base especially if they have a concealed carry permit than they are on post.