Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
The Washington Post: Let military decide who carries guns on bases
The Washington Post

The Washington Post

First Published Apr 09 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Apr 09 2014 10:04 am

After any mass shooting, a vocal faction in Congress insists that Americans would be safer if more people carried guns into restricted public places. Allowing teachers to carry firearms on campus struck us as not helpful.

But now that Fort Hood, Texas, has seen its second rampage in five years, the argument seems stronger when applied to military bases: Aren’t they filled with well-trained, trustworthy marksmen who could take down would-be mass murderers? Why not allow military personnel to carry weapons on base?

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, thinks Congress should look into changing Defense Department policy on who can carry guns on military facilities, perhaps extending the privilege to "senior leadership at these bases, officers and enlisted men that you can trust," he said on Fox News. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, introduced a bill, the Safe Military Bases Act, that would lift firearm restrictions on base.

Many current and former commanders disagree, including Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, Fort Hood’s chief. These officers are right, and lawmakers should not impose their views on those who run these military bases.

The Defense Department has considered, twice, whether putting more guns in the hands of on-base personnel would make its facilities safer: after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and after last year’s Washington Navy Yard massacre. Both times, Defense Department spokesman Damien Pickart said, the Pentagon declined to change policy, deciding that arming more people on base would pose safety problems and that the military would have to provide a lot of additional, costly weapons training.

One major concern is that disagreements inevitably arise among co-workers, whether soldier or civilian; base commanders should not want to make it easier for escalating fights to turn deadly. Another is that even well-meaning people can miss with a shot or accidentally discharge a weapon.

"Even in the military, there’s varying levels of training and capability at using weapons," Steve Bucci, a Heritage Foundation analyst and former Army commander, told the Christian Science Monitor. Both are reasons for a clear delegation of on-base safety to people who are on duty and trained to provide close-quarters security outside of a battlefield context.

The Defense Department’s policy is more flexible than those at many secure public places. Base commanders can authorize certain people to carry weapons, a prerogative we hope they use sparingly. That this flexibility exists, though, makes it all the more puzzling that lawmakers think they need to get involved.

If Congress must do something, it should examine whether the Pentagon has enough military police or needs to invest more in well-organized, official on-base security.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.