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.
“It’s just that those guidelines prioritize personal safety and the high likelihood of gun mishaps over statistically rare tragedies like the Chattanooga shooting.”
if it is so statistically rare, then why do so many politicians spend so much time trying to pass laws in the name of such a rarity? what happened to “if it just saves one life”?
Hey! Don’t you go using their own arguments against them. It’s completely unfair to expect them to be logically consistent.
Speaking of gun-grabbers being logically [in]consistent, take a gander at this gem in Weinstein’s screed:
So, Weinstein says that average military members are bumbling idiots and lack firearms proficiency. Of course most gun-grabbers tell us that only the police and military have adequate proficiency to handle firearms. Which is it?!?!?!?
This is yet another example of my claim: gun-grabbers keep vomiting snippets in the hope that something strikes a chord with the listener who will then jump on their side. They will quite literally say ANYTHING … and keep saying anything and everything until their listeners jump on board. Do we really want our politicians and bureaucrats making policies to appease such people?
Jade helm and all that.
arming soldiers why they are on base and in recruitment centers is not the same as martial law. You won’t be seeing large members of the military community in full battle dress uniform with Kevlar ballistic nylon helmets & M 16 sore m-force depending on if it’s National Guard or regular army in the streets. it would just be to the men and women in uniform that are on base and in these recruitment centers that we need to protect and they need to be able to protect themselves from terrorism, just as if they were over in Afghanistan.
My thoughts as well.
Also, allowing them to carry holstered sidearms while on base, or working off base, would not in any way, make martial law easier. And banning it doesn’t make martial law more difficult. They still have access to the full arsenal of a military base if the government chooses to go (more) fascist on us. Not having to strap on the gun belt might take a minute or two off their time to gear up for martial law.
Prior to WWII all officers and staff NCOs were required to carry loaded weapons while on duty. I can’t say for sure but my dad probably carried one at Fort Benning during the war because of the large number of German POWs housed there.
The associate pastor at my church, a retired O-6 Army chaplain told me that in the wake of Vietnam the Army reinstituted that policy because of trouble in the barracks.
“Arming All Troops Is Not the Answer”
Well, that’s true if the question is “How do we protect jihadists?”
Exactly, though once they are with their virgins, they vote democrat.
Is this “military bases aren’t gun free zones” meme a new talking point for the civilian disarmament crowd? I keep seeing it repeated, with its same, specious arguments.
Are schools not “gun free zones”, merely because an armed SRO is present?
And as for military/martial law: 100,000,000 ordinary-citizen, non-military firearms owners don’t engage in posse behavior, and there’s no reason to think that military rank-and-file being armed would be any different.
Oh come on now, everybody knows that all those scary black guns make people do evil things and they must be kept out of sight. That’s just common sense.
And I guess since LEOs are generally allowed to carry most anywhere, we don’t have ANY gun free zones; that must just be a myth.
Arming All Troops Is Not the Answer
Of course it’s not. That’s a straw man anyway. But arming for force protection as necessary is not the same thing as arming ALL troops. Strategic arming is determined by need. Sure, it’s wise to install bullet proof glass at recruiting stations out in town, but it is equally as wise to arm independent duty personnel. As for on base, it would certainly be acceptable to arm all on duty personnel. Duty days rotate and perhaps 1/6th to 1/4 of the personnel would be armed depending upon rotation. That would certainly have put the recent military shooters at pause much sooner and perhaps even averted the murderous rampages entirely.
I sort of have to agree with his 1st argument.
Although in theory this is correct, I am pretty sure not all military personnel are trained yearly in firearms. I work at an AFB. Most of the military personnel on base are office guys that probably haven’t seen a firearm since basic training. I believe if the military is going to arm these guys (which they should), they would need to go through more training.
That being said, since I work on base as a civilian, I haven’t not heard one thing about allowing those with CWP, WCL, etc (or whatever the particular state would call them) being able to carry on base. If they allowed civilians to go through the same training requirements (if they ever allow it), I would definitely go through the hoops to be able to carry on base.
And what training should the government require, in order for individuals – military or civilian – to avail themselves of their natural right to bear arms?
1st of all, we are talking about the military OFFICIALLY arming military personnel as a part of their assigned duty. Big difference than in ALLOWING someone to carry because they want to.
This is two separate issues.
I see no difference whatsoever. The issue is eliminating the attraction (and inherent defenseless-victim nature) of so-called “gun free zones”.
The removal of “gun free zone” status will eliminate 99% of the incentive and motive to carry out an attack at a given location – whether or not those in that location choose to carry.
If the government arms them, with government property, while in uniform, then it assumes liability for their actions. This is different than military personnel owning, carrying, and using firearms in their personal lives.
Cops have to qualify regularly with their work firearms, but not their personal ones. How is it any different?
I’m 100% comfortable with the government assuming liability for the actions of military members armed while on duty.
And also, being armed while on duty (e.g. the recruitment center) is a different matter from military members living at a military installation retaining the ability to arm themselves with their personal firearms while off duty. The government assumes no liability in that instance.
A simple matter purposefully complicated by idiots. Such is the case with The Trace. After reading I have to believe they had a difficult time creating an anti-firearm stand this time. Gun-free zones are voluntary, not the law of the land above the 2A. Again, take away self-preservation, it’s better to just take whatever comes and hope for the best.
I guess they can add “We support the troops, but…” to “We support the 2nd Amendment, but…” in their stock of BS lines.
” access restrictions”
Somebody doesn’t seem to understand the concept of a recruitment center…
Oh so true! Come on in son, let me show you how wonderful our service is. All the way up until you sign on the dotted line!
Took you 12 years to figure it out though?
I did 4 in the AF — decided it wasn’t the life for me, However, at the time, it was the best thing I could have done.
Funny, Mr. Weinstein feels simply allowing the choice to military personnel to arm themselves will bring about martial law yet he spends an awful lot of time mocking those with concerns relating to Jade Helm.
My guess is Adam just hates gun ownership and will take any tact available at any given time to make himself look right and everyone else look wrong even when he’s spinning around contradicting himself because he’s awesome and we’re all morons.
Umm, the Hollywood actor’s view of arming military members is actually the same as the working man’s. Woods was pointing out that gun-free zones actually are NOT safe, the military SHOULD be armed, and POTUS does NOT care about the military.
Exactly how I read it. Woods was saying “Chattanooga exposes AGAIN several liberal fallacies,” and the specific fallacies are that “Gun free zones’ are ‘safe’; military shouldn’t be armed; POTUS cares about military.”
First, that 34% hit rate for police includes suicides, which have essentially a 100% hit rate. When those are excluded, the hit rate drops quite a bit. I think it was more like 15%, but I can’t recall exactly.
Second, the idea that the military shouldn’t be armed at home is not a crazy notation. The 2nd Amendment protects citizens from the government, and the military just happens to be the arm of the government that has the greatest ability to do mass harm. While in this case, I’m okay with letting them be armed, remember that the military has no constitutional right to do anything (gun rights included). They can only do what we permit them to do. (Obvious this doesn’t apply when member are not on duty.)
Yikes! An army guy with a gun…don’t wanna’ scare us ordinary civilians. I get the Vietnam thing too-draftees in a worthless war fragging their nco. But NOW everyone is a volunteer. BTW if Bush 3 is theGOP guy I now have to hold my nose a bit less…lol
“…prioritize personal safety and the high likelihood of gun mishaps”
Exactly what does that mean? What “high” likelihood of gun mishaps? Are there some statistics available to indicate what percentage of the 300,000,000 arms in civilian ownership are responsible for mishaps? Me thinks zero. I’ve yet to hear of a gun discharging by itself. But, linguistically erroneous language aside, I’d venture that the percentage of firearm related mishaps compared to the massive number of firearms in this country, owned both by civilians and the military, is so statistically low that firearms could probably be considered one of the safest devices around. Certainly, as proven this weekend, safer than my kitchen knives.
LMAO. Time to fee up Robert & Dan. TTAG obviously has a mole in Bloomberg’s rag who writes “opposition” pieces that actually support TTAG’s position. Very clever gentlemen, and applaud your cunning.
I’m waiting for virtually all Democratic and Republican candidates to urge changes as 8 governors have with National Guard troops. No one is likely to urge keeping the status quo.
BTW, no military officers have advocated guns for recruiters. A few made statements against armed recruiters (Gen Odierno, Gen Milley – who did admit that he would consider the issue only under real extreme circumstances, LtCol Henderson, Navy CAPT Stimson, etc)
If this was so cut and dry, why don’t military leaders want it?
There are many issues to resolve: armory storage if weapons on recruiting; making time for pistol training on recruiting where there barely is time to take annual physicals; the number of pistols in the military is not nearly sufficient and there is no money to buy new ones; training budget – what unit training do you cancel to purchase ammo for pistol training of recruiters; development of courses and authorized holsters and a command to conduct training of recruiters… Etc.
While arming recruiters seems like a good idea, the execution is full of obstacles
Uggggg….I’m so tired of the old “Only those highly trained should have guns and then gun deaths would plummet” argument. These people say the average soldier(or citizen) shouldn’t be allowed to carry. They say those people aren’t “highly trained.” Okay, so what exactly does all that training give you? Supposedly, if you are “highly trained” you can shoot you weapon very accurately thus not hitting innocent bystanders. You are trained to know WHEN to take you weapon out and start shooting(thus not shooting innocent people). And you are well trained in safely possessing/using the weapon thus not injuring yourself and others due to an accident.
So here’s the problem with this line of thinking. According to a CDC report http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_02.pdf page 57 there were 33,636 firearm deaths in 2013 in the United States.
21,175 were suicides. A ton of training would not prevent any of those. So right of the bat, having all gun owners being “highly trained” will do nothing to prevent the majority of gun deaths. Killing yourself has nothing to do with accurate shooting or safety as by definition if you are going to kill yourself you aren’t concerned about safety.
11,208 deaths were homicide. Again, people murdering other people isn’t a result of not being accurate with a gun or being safe with one. By definition murderers want to be dangerous with their weapons not safe. Also, by definition criminals ignore laws so having laws limiting gun ownership to those who were “highly trained” would have no affect on these deaths as criminals would just ignore those laws.
467 were legal intervention/war(ie self defense) so those people obviously were accurate with their weapons and safely employed them to protect themselves.
281 were undetermined.
The final 505 were accidental. Now these are really the ONLY ones where safety training, etc might have saved some lives. But I would argue that many of these deaths happened to people who went through the training and still ignored the rules(just like police who are supposed to be so highly trained yet shoot themselves cleaning their guns, or hunters who went through hunter’s safety course, etc). And I would also argue that many of these people even if required to go through rigorous training would still ignore the rules or just be human and make mistakes. So let’s be generous and say half of these people could have been saved through better training. That would mean that implementing very tough laws putting all gun owners through rigorous courses, etc ensuring they were “highly trained” would cut the gun deaths in this country by .0074%. A number so small as to be statistically insignificant.
So really, any laws like those being advocated by the author of this article and others who insist only “highly trained” people be allowed to own guns are useless. The intent isn’t really to save lives. The intent is to destroy the gun culture. They want to make us jump through so many hoops, spend so much money doing that training etc, that most just give up and say “screw it, it’s too expensive and takes too much time to get my gun license”.
“11,208 deaths were homicide.”
It’s gotten that low? WOW!
@Marcus: Looks low compared to what you probably see in the (Liberal) News because he has stripped the actions like suicide from the homicide rate. Which should be done and talked about more in the press. He also took out the deaths from people defending themselves. The Liberal News never talks about that one. And if he had also taken out the deaths from gang and drug violence the rate would be lower yet. Don’t think he did that. Point being that the average person that does not live in a high crime area like Chicago, New York, etc. is much safer than they would be in many other countries with far fewer guns that we have here.
“It reflects a basic misconception about the average military member’s proficiency with guns…”
These were US Marines. Every Marine is a rifleman. This argument is nothing more than a flat-out lie in this case, and all it would take to make every member of the other services at least as proficient as the average cop (whom Weinstein seems to consider the most proficient possible individuals) would be a few days a year of extra training.
I was going to say, if your soldiers (or marines) aren’t competent to take up arms and engage an armed adversary, I’d call that a pretty big goddamned problem that you need to fix yesterday.
Can any Mil personnel here lay out what the marksmanship requirements are to graduate boot camp in the various services?
I can only speak for the Air Force prior to 2000, things may have changed.
Basic was a 1 day at the range, morning class room. Handling aiming loading, tear down, cleaning of the M-16.
Range qualification was 40 rounds for practice/sighting in. 40 round qualifier (timed shooting stages with reloads). Target was at 25 yards, with multiple silhouettes simulating ranges from 50 to i “think” 200.
I “think” the qualifying score was 30 hits – with 35 being a marksman award.
In practice the time was ignored as the weapons were in such poor repair they jammed constantly.
— After basic requirement was once every 4 years. Except for Security Forces; or combat units-
I was in a combat comm; our M-16 qual was once a year. M-9 was once every 2.
80 rounds total?
I sure hope the Marines burn more ammo than that in boot…
I’m sure the Marines do, Army too. You’ve got to remember though – the Air Force is the ultimate in REMF’s. We are the Rear echelon. When there’s fighting in Iraq the Air Force is in Saudi-Arabia. Or Israel, or Kuwait. Or Hell, Stateside. Even in time of war it would be extremely rare for Air Force enlisted to fire their weapon. So it’s about cost effectiveness of training. Would that practice bullet be better going to an Airman who is statistically unlikely to need to fire a weapon? – Or to the Marines or Army who would?
Would I have wanted to shoot more? You bet – but then I shoot for recreation.
Support Airmen were escorting convoys in Iraq this last go-round – not just Security Forces, but regular support personnel. I’d say things have changed, but I’m not so sure the Air Force’s training has…
“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.”
How exactly does arming service members on their own base / in their own office equate to using them for domestic law enforcement? That is some amazingly tortured logic. Of course this guy is likely coming from the perspective that we should rely solely on law enforcement officers to protect us, so doing it yourself means you are enforcing the law.
Progressives: what you need when the regular brand of Stupid isn’t strong enough.
military personel armed to protect themselves legally with deadly force from the threat of grave bodily harm, crippling injury or death is radically different than organized martial law.
There is no logic to the argument. Its a lie.
No it is not “tortured logic,” it isn’t logic at all. To make it even worse, this idiot ignores the fact that many military personnel have privately owned firearms, so that if they wanted to go all “martial law” (unlikely as it has never happened and would require express executive authorization) have plenty of guns available to them not controlled by their superiors. Third, he ignores the fact while that there may be many firearms on US military bases, all but a precious few are locked up unloaded in the armory (and that includes the privately owned firearms of personnel who live on base). I have read somewhere, maybe on this blog, that many MPs in various services, while on duty outside of a war zone, have weapons, but those weapons are typically unloaded, or at best have no rounds chambered in their issue side arms, nor do they have spare ammo. Finally he ignores that security at an office by the few soldiers stationed there does not equal military law. totally incompetent thinking and writing.
Good column I read a few days ago said the only EFFECTIVE policy would have to dictate that COs order a minimum % (say 10-20%) of members to carry. Officers are paralyzed in having a negligent discharge incident in their jacket. Volunteerly carry policy would result with nobody carrying since youd be punished with endless KP duty if you chose to carry and you have risk adverse officers.
Did buzzfeed run out of space, this guy has to get a check from Bloomberg now?
Trolling people isn’t journalism
I never realized back when I served that I was such a homicidal maniac who couldn’t be trusted with a firearm when not in combat.
I wish people would distinguish between the idea of arming military members and that of allowing military members to be armed while on post/base. The former is simply a government action for the purpose of accomplishing the mission (force protection), but the latter is an individual exercise of Second Amendment rights for the purpose of self defense (also with the side benefit of force protection).
These are two entirely separate concepts. I don’t think the military should arm all military personnel. I do think all military personnel should be allowed to bear arms if they choose to do so.
I strongly disagree with military carve outs. The governor of Maine wanted to allow military personnel to carry concealed without a permit younger than civilians. I also vaguely remember an uproar recently about some state allowing or not allowing out of state military spouses to get permits.
Any exemptions should be for everybody*, or nobody (I vote everybody*). Otherwise we create yet another special class who are more equal than the other animals.
* Other than prisoners, the insane, and the mentally deficient.
Don’t worry about military carve-outs.
CO’s are responsible for everything their Marines do or fail to do. NDs, loss of serialized gear (pistol), or failing to make mission because recruiters are training on pistols can all realistically happen and will get a CO fired. A terrorist attack (unlikely) will not get anyone fired.
Even if the law allows Marines to carry on recruiting, I will be very surprised if any CO allows it.
Umm, RF, I think Whine-stein is saying that actor Woods and the mythical mechanic share the same view, (i.e. that the troops should have the chance to be armed) only Woods apparently more so. As Hollywood types go, Woods is one of the “good guys”, for the most part. Just thought I would point that out.
Pence had the Indiana national Guard arm themselves. People are making this too difficult.
Indiana is not under martial law.
I will admit that these days the thought of martial law occasionally crosses my mind.
But, then, I remember………from a poll about a year ago………there is no identifiable group in the country that hates the present administration………more than the United States military.
Am I missing something, or does the author’s quote of James Woods kind of undermine his entire thesis? I mean, he claims it’s “the xenophobic expression of pathos by conservative chickenhawks”, but it sounds more like the raising of some legitimate points that the author leaves completely unaddressed.
Weinstein isn’t entirely wrong. Troops, especially bored troops, get up to some remarkably stupid things.
Posse Comitatas however is way off-base. A personal sidearm for self-defense will not empower a soldier to institute martial law. After all, we out-gun them.
It would be a very bad idea to arm military soldiers outside of the battle field. So many low quality Army enlistees come in, a lot of them have inner city gang affiliations. In fact, you cannot even be a ranking gang member in major cities such as LA, Detroit, etc, unless you have several years of military combat experience. May sound humorous but it’s true since it’s such a valued skill. This would only make things worse and a lot of trigger happy disaster’s occurring especially among children.
There are 2 problems with the argument about negligent discharges and accidents. People who are prone to these problems are not randomly distributed accross gun owners. There is an identifiable small subset of gun owners who are unusually wrecless and gun accidents concentrate among this group. Fatal and non fatal gun accidents follow people who are alcoholics have drunk driving records and a history of violence. The are a small identifiable subset of the gun owners many of which are criminals and have a violent personality and who are intentionally wreckless.
The second error is also a colossal one. It compares the likelihood of using a gun against one of the rarest crimes there is. Guns carried on military bases can be used to defend against more than just active shooters. Guns are useful for defense against violent crime in general and is the most effective method of self defence even according to the national crime victimization survey. Using a gun for defense is also more effective than compliance or doing nothing. This includes crimes in which the offender is armed with a gun.
Too late. Many states allow LE to carry firearms and other weapons that are not available to the public. This is the militarization of the police. They even are allowed vehicles that we can not even buy(Ford Victoria) much less the power packages these cars can come with.
The creation of federal police forces for use inside the country should not be legal. This way, the Feds can have pet LEOs that will do thier bidding when the LEOs of that state might not. This is the last thing we need in this country. We need to dismantle the Patriot Act and all of the LEO groups the alphabet agencies have started. Having the FBI, to help local law enforcement with national databases and labs is fine, but the BATF can be run by the FBI and the only other LE at the federal level should only be in areas that do not have statehood, federal courthouses, prisons and security for congressmen, federal judges and the POTUS and family. All other LE should be at and controlled by, the state level.