Reader CC writes:
It seems that every time there is an active shooter incident on a military installation, the politicians scream that something should be done and demand to know why military members can’t carry weapons on base. A lot of blame is thrown around about which president is responsible for why carrying firearms in base is prohibited; yet no one seems to want to propose lifting the ban. I personally wish for the day we can carry concealed as I wonder if it will happen at the base where I am stationed . . .
Recently, I had to attend my M4 qualification course for a possible deployment. During the course, the instructors kept bringing up the possibility of dealing with an active shooter or green-on-blue attack. During one of the breaks, I talked with one of my classmates about the recent active shooter incidents on bases such as Fort Hood and the Washington Naval Yard. The instructor thought that if the base patrols could have responded quicker, then the incidents would have been a lot less severe. This upset me a little and so I asked him his thoughts on letting military members carry — either openly or concealed — and he thought it was a terrible idea.
When asked why, his response was that the typical military member cannot be trusted with a weapon on base. I was shocked as we were training to fire assault rifles for a deployment. The idea that we can be trusted while deployed but not at home was that during a deployment, you are under controlled conditions and no one carries a rifle with a chambered round. I was deployed for a year at Kabul International Airport and carried both an M9 and an M4 every day without incident. I only had to chamber my rifle when going outside the wire and the only time I cleared my M9 was when I had to clean it.
I pressed my classmate on this and brought up that there are many members of our squadron who have concealed handgun permits and carry off base all the time without a problem. He then proposed that if we allowed anyone to carry, it should be officers. Once again I brought up the fact that there are only six officers in our unit and none actually have time to deal with anything as they are tied up in meetings all day. The only officers I see in our work area are the pilots headed to their aircraft. If there was an active shooter on the base flightline and only officers carried handguns, it would be the same as waiting for first responders.
I realized that arguing with this individual wasn’t going anywhere as he seemed grounded in his belief that young people can’t be trusted with guns. He even proposed that if we allow people to carry on base, they should have to get their handgun from the base armory and check it back in at the end of the duty day. That seems logical for base security forces, but not people who work ten to fourteen hour days fixing aircraft. Plus, I remember once waiting a half hour to check out my weapons as I left for my last deployment since the guy running the armory was on a smoke break and the single man left said he had to wait for his partner to return to issue my weapons to me.
If we wish to change the policy on concealed handguns on base, it will not only take action from the politicians, but from the military itself. The idea that I can’t trust someone with a weapon is outdated and goes to the concept that a pissed off coworker carrying a gun is inherently dangerous. I work in an environment where people get upset all the time, yet none actually would go so far as to shoot someone over an argument or having to work on an off day. I’m constantly trying to educate those I work with as I feel that’s the first step. I worked with the Afghan Air Force for a year and had to worry about inside attacks every day.
Hopefully one day, the ban will be lifted and military members will be allowed to carry concealed. Heck, I’d settle for open carry if it prevented another mass attack on my fellow service members.