Fort Hood Déjà Vu

By | April 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

As of this writing, the latest Fort Hood shooting has resulted in four dead, including the shooter, and 16 injured, some critically. The shooter is reported to be 34-year-old Specialist Ivan Lopez, about whom nothing relevant is yet known. There is no evidence that this shooting, unlike the last, involved radical Islam. At this early stage, what can we say?
● Military bases deserve to be patrolled by Military Police, not civilian police. True, two civilian police, one of them a petite woman, ended the first Fort Hood attack by shooting and wounding the attacker, Major Nidal Hasan. After a protracted trial, Hasan was sentenced to death for 14 murders.
Perhaps I am showing my age, but the Army posts I recall – the Presidio of San Francisco, Fort Ord, and Fort MacArthur – were patrolled by MPs, who were not the least reluctant to pull over a young lieutenant for some minor traffic infraction. They carried caliber .45 Government Model sidearms – and looked like they knew how to use them. I would have been unwilling to challenge them, much less attack them. Civilian cops, no matter how competent, even courageous, just wouldn’t have the same deterrent effect on me, and I suspect on others.
● Military bases are essentially gun-free zones. Rifles and other weapons are stored securely, and ammunition is locked up. This was true at the first Fort Hood shooting, at the Washington Navy Yard shooting, and I believe at the current Fort Hood shooting.
A good definition of intelligence is the capacity to learn from experience. Judged by this criterion, we are dumb as dirt. After the first Fort Hood shooting, and after the Navy Yard shooting, many suggested that senior enlisted personnel be assigned to keep weapons and ammunition handy in case of emergency. Two or three could be assigned to each building or each unit.
Of course, this was not done. I disagree with making schools and airliners gun-free zones, and thus easy prey for criminals or terrorists. But at least I can understand the reluctance of some people to arm selected teachers and pilots, even after appropriate training. Who wants to think of a school as an armed camp? But military bases? To insist that they remain gun-free zones betrays the irrationality of anti-gun zealots.
When two Muslim converts hacked Private Lee Rigby to death on a London street, they were telling the world: Britannia used to rule the waves, but now she can’t even protect her own soldiers in her own capital. When Major Hasan killed 14 at Fort Hood, he was telling the world: American soldiers fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now they aren’t safe on their own home base. When Specialist Lopez killed three and injured 16 at Fort Hood, he was telling the world: America is so weak and stupid that it can’t protect its own troops even after a prior attack.
Whatever the motives of the current shooter prove to be, we can hope that after this second Fort Hood shooting, serious consideration will be given to restoring base security to the Military Police, and to arming selected enlisted personnel.
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