There are two groups of people that have a very great deal in common, yet few would think to compare them. Both groups walk about with targets on their backs, yet both are denied their Second Amendment right to protect their very lives. Domestic and international terrorists have targeted both groups in recent years, and some members of both groups have been killed. When they’ve died, the mainstream media have almost universally proclaimed the solution to be more gun control, bigger government and more taxpayer funds spent. Intelligence has been developed and continues to be developed clearly indicating that the targets on their backs are growing larger and more numerous every day; terrorists are anxious to attack what they rightly see as soft targets . . .
These groups, many of whom would bristle at the suggestion they are victims, are our public school teachers and students, and our servicemen and -women and their dependents. What better targets to hit to demonstrate to the world that America can’t even protect her own?
Many Americans are under the mistaken impression that military bases are heavily fortified and that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are armed while on duty. Sadly, this hasn’t been true or even possible for decades, which made the Fort Hood attack, the Navy Yard attack, and many others, including attacks of recruiting offices, possible. Schools, for the most part, remain even less protected.
During my time as an Air Force security policeman in the early ’70s, the only people under arms while on duty were the security police, and active aircrews flying Cold War duty. On and around enormous Air Force bases, the security police at entrance gates carried .38 caliber revolvers, and the security police guarding aircraft and missile facilities carried M-16 rifles. Apart from them, there was essentially no one able to stop an active shooter. I drew my issued handgun from an armory just before going on duty and turned it in, along with every round of lead, round-nosed ammunition, before going off duty. Virtually no one else was authorized to carry arms while on base.
The same is true today of virtually all military facilities. There are, to be sure, exceptions for highly secure facilities on and off larger military installations, but terrorists planning an attack on almost all military bases can be virtually certain that there will be few able to resist them, and they’ll know who and where they are likely to be. As is the case everywhere, when seconds matter, the military police are minutes away. That state of affairs cost many lives at Ft. Hood.
The dependents of service members are likewise unable to carry their personal weapons on base/post, and they have additional problems. While active duty service members may purchase firearms as residents throughout the country, the same is not universally true for their dependents who must first establish residency according to the varying laws of the states.
Who is responsible for making our service members and their families so vulnerable? Common wisdom has it that President Bill Clinton is the culprit, and considering his well-known hatred for the military (see this book by Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson who carried the nuclear football in the Clinton White House), it seems more than logical to believe that, but it is apparently not so. The Blaze notes:
“It appears DoD Directive 5210.56 was reissued in April 2011 by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III.
However, that policy specifically notes part of its purpose is aimed at implementing ‘applicable portions of Department of Defense Directive 5210.56,’ which, as previously stated, was put into effect by Bush Sr.’s deputy secretary of defense.’
Steven Bucci, a military expert for The Heritage Foundation who served 28 years in the Army and retired in 2005 with the rank of colonel, also told TheBlaze Tuesday afternoon that Clinton is not to blame.
‘I think you are barking up the wrong tree if you are looking to put blame on someone for disarming the military,’ said Bucci, when asked if Clinton was responsible. ‘I think that’s kind of a bogus story.’
‘We have never had our soldiers walking around with weapons all the time, other than in combat zones,’ he added, noting only Military Police have had that authority.”
There are indications the original ban was issued in 1969 under President Nixon, and the ban, or at least policy in the various services amounting to the same thing, was certainly in effect in the early 70s when I was in the Air Force. Even absent specific military law or regulation, the military has always been very cautious about controlling the carrying of firearms outside of active war zones. Considering the small amount of training given to many members of the military, there are not unreasonable arguments for this. During my days in the USAF, virtually the only people that received regular training and were regularly required to qualify with small arms were the Security Police. Everyone else shot the M-16 briefly during basic training, and probably never again. The Army and Marines, of course, require much more familiarity with arms.
However, times have changed and the threat of active terrorist shooters, not only targeting military installations, but the families of service members, at their homes and elsewhere, is real and ever-increasing, particularly under an administration determined to throw open America’s borders. Even so, home grown terrorists, the so-called “lone wolf” and “known wolf” shooters, are also a burgeoning threat. Fox News reports on efforts to address that vulnerability:
“Military spouses could be able to purchase a handgun in any state without first becoming a resident if recently proposed legislation is passed into law.
Under current federal law, active duty service members can purchase handguns in any state without proving they are state residents. But that law does not extend to their spouses, who must first establish state residency before making a firearm purchase.
The legislation, offered by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., would change that. His proposed rules would put active duty service members and their spouses on equal footing when purchasing a firearm.
Rigell drafted the legislation in response to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threats targeted at military spouses and family members, he said.
‘Considering the threats we face from Islamic extremists, foreign and domestic, and lone wolves, it is prudent that our military families have the tools they need to protect their loved ones,’ Rigell said in a statement. ‘Spouses should be able to purchase handguns in the state where their husband or wife is stationed. They have the right to protect themselves, and this bill allows them to fully exercise their second amendment right.”
Terrorists are becoming far more adept at using cyberspace, not only to identify and locate military members and their families, but to recruit and encourage domestic sympathizers to take the path of Jihad.
“Service members and military spouses have been the target this year of online threats made by groups claiming to be affiliated with ISIS. In March, the names, addresses and photos of 100 service members were posted online as a ‘wanted’ list. In February a group calling themselves the ‘Cyber Caliphate’ hacked the Twitter and Facebook accounts of a military spouse and sent threatening messages to a handful of others.”
The plain language of the Second Amendment, particularly “…shall not be infringed,” is clear enough, however, it is a well-established principle of law that those serving in the military may be denied certain rights that others take for granted in the interests of maintaining military order and discipline. Allowing every service member–including new recruits in training–to be armed at all times may not be possible or wise, however, short of that, there are a great many other possibilities that would not only change our military installations from soft to forbidding targets, but which would deter attacks, and when they occur, would make possible stopping the attackers with minimal injury or loss of life.
At the very least, military dependents should be granted automatic residency, and they and their service members should be allowed to carry their weapons–preferably concealed–to and from their duty station and lock them in their vehicles while on duty.
Obviously, security and safety are major concerns at any military installation, but what good are regulations addressing those concerns if they make servicemen and women such attractive targets that they lose their lives to terrorists?
It is past time to address these issues. Our military members and their dependents deserve no less right to protect their lives than the average citizen with a concealed carry license, or the citizens of states that recognize constitutional carry. The same is true for teachers and the children for whose safety they are responsible.
Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.