You gotta love The Trace. ‘Cause I sure don’t. Well, I do, a little. I love how they state the pro-gun position at the top of their post Why Military Security Experts Know That Arming All Troops Is Not the Answer. “The argument that all military service members should be armed with guns to protect themselves — proffered by GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Donald Trump in the wake of the shooting deaths of four Marines and a sailor last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee — is so basic that there’s not much argument to it at all.” See? You can’t ask for more than that. Unfortunately, we get more than that. But first, writer Adam Weinstein [above] serves-up more on-target pro-gun logic. Like this . . .
Railing against “gun-free zones” last Friday, Trump summed the case up in this way: “This sick guy had guns and shot them down. These are decorated people. These are people who could have handled guns very easily. They would have had a good chance if they had a gun.” In making their cases, the presidential hopefuls echoed a Connecticut car repairman whose shop is near a military recruiting office, who told the Associated Press that arming its occupants made perfect sense to him. “Most of them are trained infantrymen,” the repairman asserted. “That definitely would make it a lot more safe.” They’re military, they know how to use guns, how could we not have every one of them be armed all the time, just in case?
I bet they’re glad they asked themselves that question. Pretty much had to, really. And I bet you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what awesome arguments Adam Weinstein can muster to convince readers that American troops shouldn’t muster with sidearms stateside, given that they’re targets for known-wolf terrorists and, let’s face it, the certainty of a more concerted attempt to slaughter them like sheep on our shores.
It reflects a basic misconception about the average military member’s proficiency with guns, and it flat-out misses the reality that armed-forces installations are not “gun-free zones” by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, the military has fairly liberal guidelines empowering its commanders to arm members to defend themselves. It’s just that those guidelines prioritize personal safety and the high likelihood of gun mishaps over statistically rare tragedies like the Chattanooga shooting.
Weinstein sums-up his argument against arming military members on domestic soil right from the git-go, which I sum up thusly.
1. Soldiers are not competent enough to carry firearms, unlike, say, the New York Police Department, which regularly racks-up a sub-35 percent hit ratio (over 55 percent for dogs). In fact, soldiers are “no more qualified to neutralize an active shooter than the average professional mechanic is to race the Daytona 500.”
2. There are guns on military bases anyway so quit your bitching. The fact that these armed defenders weren’t able to defend unarmed Marines – or soldiers at Fort Hood – until many of them were dead is neither here nor there. It was good enough. Besides, armed soldiers killed unarmed soldiers so the less armed soldiers the better – even though the armed soldiers who killed unarmed soldiers did so in direct contravention of existing regulations against soldiers being armed.
3. The chances that soldiers will shoot themselves – though not fatally – are higher than the chances of Marines being slaughtered like the aforementioned sheep. (Five in Chatanooga.) Arming military members would cause more problems than it would solve. Which admits it would solve some problems. Just not enough.
Weinstein isn’t done. He saves the “best” for last.
Beyond the practical concerns about an increase in accidents and criminal killings, military planners have another reason to be sanguine about arming service members en masse: It poses an inherent risk to civil liberties in the United States. Since the late 1800s, the Posse Comitatus Act has limited the federal government’s ability to use military members to carry out domestic law enforcement duties. It originated in the rollback of Reconstruction-era policing of the South, but since then, the law has been widely praised as a safeguard against federal martial law on the streets of America. Second Amendment advocates who often defend personal firearms ownership as a check against government abuse and tyranny would likely be among the first Americans to criticize arming domestic military members wholesale in the name of “security.”
Only . . . they’re not! Which kinda makes you wonder if that’s even an issue. In fact, one wonders if U.S. military personnel have access to rifles should their commanders command them to carry them. They do! They so do! And yet Second Amendment advocates are advocating for all Americans to be free to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Even in the military!
Never mind all that. Weinstein has the answer.
If the military is looking for better “force protection,” it will have to consider prioritizing these low-security facilities for sensible new measures, like greater access restrictions, structural hardening, and adding DoD police — or ordering one or more of the service members assigned to staff to be trained to carry and use firearms under existing policies.
But arming all military workers everywhere is not one of those sensible new measures. At best, it’s the gut feeling of a car repairman in Connecticut and the political stumpers that pander to him; at worst, it’s the xenophobic expression of pathos by conservative chickenhawks. One of their more ornery (or, possibly, more honest) spokesmen, actor and right-wing activist James Woods, displayed the latter sensibility on Twitter last week. “Chattanooga exposes AGAIN several liberal fallacies,” he wrote. “‘Gun free zones’ are ‘safe’; military shouldn’t be armed; POTUS cares about military.”
Fail, here is thy sting. First, Weinstein is calling for more guns. How the Hell did that slip by The Trace’s editors? Second, what’s Weinstein got against Connecticut car repairmen? Elitism much? And third, James Woods? Is Weinstein seriously dissing a working man in favor of a Hollywood actor’s view of arming U.S. military personnel against terrorist attack?
If billionaire bully boy Michael Bloomberg wasn’t funding The Trace it would disappear without one. No doubt that day will come. Meanwhile, this.