On IVN this week, there was a very well-written article from Wendy Innes, a regular contributor to the network, about the irony that military bases are “gun free zones.” The article was written in response to the most recent shooting at Fort Hood, located in Killeen, TX.
While the investigation is ongoing, many are wondering just why it is that America’s military bases are so-called “gun free zones.” It seems incredibly counter-intuitive to say that we, as a nation, trust these men and women to handle weapons in order to defend the country and carry out the mission they are given, but they can’t be trusted to carry a weapon in accordance with their constitutional rights at home.
“The decision to make military bases ‘gun free’ was one of Bill Clinton’s first acts as president in March of 1993, in order to reduce violent crime on board military installations,” said military disability attorney John B. Gately. How effective the policy has been at reducing violent crime is drawn into question given the on-going sexual assault crisis in the military as well as the recent rash of shootings on military bases and one Navy ship.
After nearly 13 years of continuous combat, stories of soldiers coming home with broken bodies and broken minds are all too common and make mental illness the easy scapegoat when tragedies occur, followed quickly by the “blame the gun” ideology. But these high profile shootings seem to have increased just over the last 5 years.
Read the full article here.
Shootings at Fort Hood, the Navy Yard in Virginia, and other military installations have sparked a debate over whether or not military bases and installations should be “gun free zones.” However, the mistake that is often made in this debate is to treat all “gun free zones” like they are equal.
The article above does an excellent job at focusing specifically on military installations, but IVN is all about going beyond the headlines and standard, recycled talking points that people only see from most media outlets. This honest discussion on topics like guns and gun policy in America, however, is not seen on other networks.
There are several gun rights activists who want to do away with “gun free zones” completely, treating them like they are all the same. The exact same talking points were used after Aurora, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, the Navy Yard, and pretty much every mass shooting that has happened across the nation over the last few years. However, schools are not the same as military bases. Movie theaters are not the same as military bases.
If we are to examine eliminating the “gun free” status of military installations then we can’t make the mistake of treating the debate like it is the same as talking about the “gun free” status of elementary schools or any civilian location.
There is a good reason for schools to remain “gun free zones,” just like there is good reason to keep public locations where people are packed together like cattle for multiple hours, like a movie theater or sports arena/stadium, “gun free zones.” Most civilians do not have proper response training for crisis situations, including most people with concealed handgun licenses (CHLs).
CHLs do not mean an individual is prepared to act in the very, very remote chance they are present when a lone gunman or group of gunmen open fire in a public place. People have this image of the civilian hero who pulls out his gun to save the day, but chances are they would put more people at risk in a close-quarter situation than they would save. That is the simple truth most law enforcement professionals try to explain to people.
Military bases, however, are different. We are talking about trained soldiers who are taught how to respond in a situation where they suddenly come under fire. This type of response training would not only benefit them in a combat zone, but in a situation like the two shootings at Fort Hood. There is an argument to make to allow soldiers who have been licensed by the state to carry concealed handguns to be allowed to do so in military installations.
There is also a matter of security. How is it that a troubled individual was able to get a gun on what is already supposed to be a secure location after said location was the scene of a mass shooting incident a few years before? It seems that looking further into the security issue and making improvements would also be something to consider. After all, no one can open fire on an installation if they can’t get a gun into it.