The United States is a wonderful country that provides many opportunities for all. However, the U.S. is short of perfect in many ways, including unwise policies that put Americans at risk. Places like schools, shopping areas, restaurants and bars, office buildings and, of all places, military installations, leave their occupants at risk by announcing to everyone, including murderers and terrorists, that guns are not allowed on the premises.
Those in charge of these facilities obviously want the people who spend time in them to be safe, and so they ban guns from them. If only the murderers and terrorists obeyed the rules. But, alas, they don’t.
And so yet again newspapers, broadcasts and Internet sites are filled with the horrific story of multiple deaths and injuries at gun-free zones, this last episode at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn. last week.
“A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station on Thursday, then raced to a second military site where he killed four United States Marines,” as reported by The New York Times. A Navy petty officer shot on Thursday died Saturday. The nation has logged yet another event where American military personnel – at the mercy of short-sighted rules based upon emotion and fear, rather than on logic – were forced to be sitting ducks while on duty defending the nation against its enemies. Except, in this case they were prohibited from protecting themselves against this enemy.
After the numerous examples of violence on military bases – the worst of which was the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009, when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the clinic where he worked as a physician – one might think that the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s military, might change the rules that prohibit military personnel, arguably those best trained to carry weapons anywhere and everywhere, from being armed while on duty (this is a non sequitur!).
It defies reason to deny highly trained military personnel being armed while serving at their duty stations, making them sitting ducks, but it also makes little sense to deny having trained people at schools and other places who could respond to an armed attacker that otherwise would enjoy open season on those at defenseless facilities.
Just the idea that there may be armed people at a potential target has a deterrent effect on those wishing to commit murder and mayhem. Terrorists and murderers may be vicious scum, but they are not always stupid. They prefer soft targets, where they can accomplish their evil goals without interference, and knowing that guns are prohibited at a potential target location is an attractive advantage, as opposed to a target where they know they likely will encounter armed resistance.
John R. Lott, Jr. is an economist, columnist and author of books on guns and crime. He notes in discussing a live-fire incident: “And even when concealed handgun permit holders don’t deter the killers, the permit holders stop them. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mass public shooting at a liquor store in Conyers, Ga., was stopped by a concealed handgun permit holder. A couple of people had already been killed by the time the permit holder arrived, but according to Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett: ‘I believe that if [the legal permit holder] did not return fire at the suspect, then more of those customers would have [been] hit by a gun. It didn’t appear that he cared who he shot or where he was shooting until someone was shooting back at him. So, in my opinion, he saved other lives in that store."
So, what are the chances that the “gun-free zone” policy at least contributed to the deaths of five military personnel in Chattanooga? Very good, if not certain.
This policy was put into effect by President Bill Clinton, according to a 2009 editorial in The Washington Times, following the Ft. Hood massacre: “Among President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases.” The editorial then added, “Because of Mr. Clinton, terrorists would face more return fire if they attacked a Texas Wal-Mart than the gunman faced at Fort Hood …” That restriction was not altered by President George W. Bush, although there was only one shooting on military bases during Mr. Bush’s presidency, according to a report on nbcwashington.com, and that was in September 2008, three months before Mr. Bush’s tenure as president ended.
The report lists three shootings during Mr. Clinton’s term in the White House, but that number increased substantially during Barack Obama’s tenure. The report lists 16 shootings from January 2009 when Mr. Obama took office through April of 2014. But even that shocking statistic has not prompted him to change the rules.
A major enumerated function of the federal government is to guarantee our God given rights, several (but not all) of which are listed in the Bill of Rights. Who can argue that protecting one’s self is not such a right? When is the government going to stop interfering with that right?