In the wake of the Islamic terrorist attacks in Chattanooga that left five Marines dead and three other people wounded, debate has resumed in Congress on legislation that would permit service personnel to carry firearms while on base. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, authorized the Adjutant-General of the Nebraska National Guard, Maj. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac, to “arm any personnel he deems necessary,” according to Omaha.com . . .
“This authorization extends additional protections to our servicemen and women who need every resource we can provide them to defend themselves and our National Guard installations,” Ricketts said in the release.
Nebraska National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Hynes said Ricketts’ action was “a necessary step” before Bohac could beef up Guard security. He wouldn’t say whether, or when, additional Guard members would be armed.
“It’s still going to be part of the continuing evaluation that we’re doing,” Hynes said. “Because we’re dealing with security, we can’t say a lot, specifically.”
Nebraska joins a group of at least six other states — Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas — whose governors have ordered their respective National Guardsmen to be armed in the wake of the terrorist attack.
As the debate in DC intensifies on the issue at a national level, several current and former military personnel have come out against it, reports the Seattle Times. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno argued that it was too dangerous because of “accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries.”
Former military judge and JAG officer Charlie Stimson, who now works for the right-wing lobbying group the Heritage Foundation, thinks it’s a bad idea, too, because military personnel aren’t expert marksmen.
“I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” Stimson, who held the civilian post of deputy assistant defense secretary in charge of detainee policy under President George W. Bush, said Monday. But “they’re not expert marksmen. They don’t have the annual requirement to qualify on a shooting range like a (Navy) SEAL would or a Green Beret or a Marine.”
Of the five military services, only the Marine Corps requires every member to qualify as a rifleman, in part because Marines provide security at U.S. embassies and other American facilities around the world.
The other four services provide only basic weapons training to most members, providing combat-level training only to those who are headed to war zones.
“You have a vast cadre of people in the military — doctors, lawyers, intelligence specialists, cryptologists, mechanics — whose jobs are important because they support combat troops, but it is not their job to point weapons at people and kill them,” Stimson said.
Oddly, when I looked into joining the military many years ago, I recall learning that persons being inducted into the service agree to use weapons against the country’s enemies, up to and including weapons of mass destruction. How unserious must ‘basic weapons training’ be if a significant portion of the military is unqualified to handle firearms? This sounds more of an indictment of the military’s training policies than anything else.
The one that takes the cake, though, is Cmdr. Rick Nelson (USN-Ret.) who at one point qualified as a Navy sharpshooter. The Seattle Times quotes him as saying:
“Training a Marine for combat in Iraq is very different from training a police officer to use force appropriately,” he said. “Conflating those two scenarios — putting a combat-trained military person into a law-enforcement situation — is not going to produce the results we want.”
Nelson would rather see changes such as hiring security to guard recruiting centers and installing bulletproof glass.
I have to respectfully disagree with the Commander, if he’s being serious here. This really isn’t a question of deputizing Marines (or other personnel) to act as civilian law enforcement, but of simply allowing — or ordering — those personnel who choose to carry a firearm for personal defense just as any civilian has the right to do.
One thing that might sway me would be if our military personnel are simply too undisciplined to be trusted en masse with firearms while stationed among civilians outside of a war zone, but I don’t see anyone making that argument. Instead, I hear the same arguments about accidents and training that are dragged out by the usual civilian disarmament suspects.
Or perhaps I’m not reading between the lines enough. Perhaps the point of these statements is a politically correct way to tell us that there’s a significant discipline issue in the military. If so, that sounds like a serious training issue, and one that needs to be addressed immediately. Regardless, though, I’m not sure I know of a better answer to any kind of small-arms attack than a Marine equipped with a firearm.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.