Criminals, crazed maniacs, and terrorists always obey the rules.
After all, Sandy Hook Elementary School’s gun-free policy deterred Adam Lanza from his sadistic plot to slaughter children in Newtown, Conn. The same policy at Rocori High School stopped Jason McLaughlin from pulling a gun on his fellow students in my childhood home of Cold Spring, Minn. In the same vein, the Cinemark Theater chain’s gun-free zone policy certainly dissuaded James Holmes from his plan to walk into a dark room of unsuspecting movie goers in Aurora, Colo. and blast the life out of them.
Indeed, criminals, crazed maniacs, and terrorists always obey the rules.
Here’s a concept—murder is also against the law. Yet thousands of people are murdered every year in the United States. Just because something is “illegal” or “banned” stops few who want to get away with it (or at least make the attempt) if they really want.
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
Rules are followed by the law-abiding. Provisions like our Second Amendment allow us to protect ourselves from those who choose to break the law.
In a shocking turn of events, the Fort Hood military post has yet again become the site of a mass shooting perpetrated by one of their own. Spc. Ivan Lopez allegedly brought an illegal firearm onto the base, and proceeded to open fire, killing three, wounding 16 and taking his own life.
The tragedy has sparked an important debate—why are our soldiers not allowed to carry guns on an Army base?
Due to a Depart of Defense directive signed at the end of the George H.W. Bush administration, they are prohibited from doing so. With a few exceptions, the only armed personnel on army bases are military police (MPs).
There are many today who believe that had our soldiers (extensively trained individuals who deploy overseas and carry loaded, high-power weaponry on a daily basis) been allowed to freely carry their firearms, this tragedy could have been halted far quicker than it was.
Others instead turned, yet again, to gun control.
This undated photo provided by Glidden Lopez shows Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Authorities said Lopez killed three people and wounded 16 others in a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, before killing himself. Investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Glidden Lopez)
Banning guns doesn’t solve the problem. It never has. No matter the restrictions . . . they always seem to find a way.
I spent several years living in Mexico, where gun laws are extremely restrictive. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to obtain a personal firearm, yet the violent drug war resulting in the gun-related deaths of thousands still rages.
Consider a similar environment—Connecticut—where gunman Adam Lanza in fact did shoot 20 children and six staff. Despite having some of the strictest gun laws in the country, Connecticut is now home to the second worst school shooting in American history, perpetrated by a young man who, according to that state’s laws, shouldn’t have been able to have the gun in the first place.
Fort Hood is no different. According to the rules, Lopez shouldn’t have technically had the weapon in the first place. But he did . . . and he used it to fundamentally alter the lives of 20 families; his own included.
Still others may argue that the real issue at hand is mental health. That’s true—PTSD is a burgeoning problem that isn’t being properly addressed at all. So much so that some statistics show that as many as 22 veterans are taking their own lives every day.
Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan. Hasan convicted of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting. AP
But what about Nidal Hasan? Hasan (ironically enough, a United States Army psychologist) is perfectly sane. As a matter of fact, he admitted to having committed the shooting for radical Islamic purposes, saying that “we mujahedeen are trying to establish the perfect religion;" referencing his desire to kill U.S. soldiers who might otherwise kill Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.
In the end, what causes a person to take innocent lives (while important to understand and recognize) is secondary. The fact of the matter is simple: evil people and the mentally ill are always going to be around. That is as certain as death and taxes. The more important question lies in how we can protect ourselves from them.
Piers Morgan, the now-fired CNN host who developed quite a reputation as a vitriolic anti-gun proponent, was at it again this week, tweeting out the following in response to Fort Hood:
In other words—guns don’t stop other guns.
To quote Mr. Morgan, that is simply “such crap.”
If good people with guns don’t stop bad people with guns, then do tell—what does? What stopped Spc. Ivan Lopez on Thursday afternoon?
A female MP with a gun.
After spending nearly 20 minutes freely rampaging the base, Lopez was confronted by one of the few people on base actively carrying a loaded gun.
Heritage’s Steven Bucci rightly points out that prior to the directive banning guns on Army bases, military personnel weren’t walking around en masse with guns at the ready.
Be that though it may, it’s beside the point. The fact of the matter is that times have changed, and we’re fighting several enemies from within today. There are the Nidal Hasans of the world, where our enemy has actively infiltrated our military. Then there’s the unimaginable burden of PTSD carried by thousands of veterans; a burden that drives many of them insane.
Two US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide attack On the Kabul Jalalabad road, in Kabul on December 27, 2013. A Taliban suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed car next to a NATO military convoy in Kabul, killing three NATO personnel and injuring at least four civilian passers-by, officials said. The blast in the Afghan capital left the twisted remains of the attacker's car spread across the scene along with several other badly-damaged vehicles, including a NATO sports utility vehicle, witnesses said. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada)
Our military should be allowed to carry for the same reason private citizens can. We call the police when we’re in danger, but when an armed intruder is pointing a gun at your family, seconds count. You must act in the moment. It’s no different on a base, which are often the size of small cities. When a crazed gunman is on the loose, there isn’t always time to wait for an MP.
If the oft-repeated argument of gun control advocates; that is, that we leave it to the professionals is true, then what are we doing? What are the armed forces if not professionals?
We trust them with guns to protect us (and often civilians in the country they’re in), and yet when they return home, we thank them for their service and promptly tell them they can’t be trusted with their weapons on base. It is absolutely beyond the pale.
How many more Fort Hoods must take place before we realize that when we ban the right to self protection, people will die?
We’ve trained them to be the very best. They fight for our freedom to bear arms . . . it’s about time we let them exercise it.
Mary Ramirez is a full time writer, and creator of www.afuturefree.com--a political commentary blog. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree
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