It never ceases to amaze me how the Obama administration continues to fail at dealing with problems with a degree of common sense and prompt resolve. When itís a matter of minor policy, one might not be alarmed; but when the problem deals with the very safety and lives of our military personnel, the entire nation should stand up and demand that our military personnel be treated the same under the United States Constitution as any other citizen. When did volunteering to fight for our nation make soldiers, sailors, and marines second class citizens?
With the recent tragic shootings at Fort Hood, coupled with the additional base shootings over the last 6 months, is it so hard to understand that our military bases should cease being ďgun freeĒ zones? It is clear that top military commanders should be allowed to make the decision to direct all personnel, if not at least combat trained staff, to carry side arms while on base. The very personnel who can carry concealed weapons when they leave the base as law abiding citizens are prohibited for carrying their side arms on their installation unless they check them out of the armory for weapons training or operational drills. Members of the military received as much, if not more, hours of firearms training as civilian law enforcement officers and yet base commanders have to rely on very small forces of civilian security contractors or security police to afford protection to, in some cases, over 60,000 active duty personnel and civil service workers on the facility. These bases are large communities; places where persons are not always safe.
As a retired law enforcement executive, I have learned several important things about violent crime. First, it knows no boundaries; where people travel, crime is usually present. Second, whether an act of terrorism, crime of passion, domestic violence incident, or result of mental illness, the sooner the perpetrator is engaged and stopped by deadly force, the lesser degree of injuries and deaths result. Whether itís a school, shopping mall, movie theatre, or a military installation, the tactics of dealing with an active shooter are the same. As in the civilian world, police personnel canít be everywhere, and having multiple military members armed on base serves as both a deterrent and a sure fire way of enhancing the odds that an active shooter(s) will be apprehended quickly.
I know itís a major change in policy for the Pentagon. Looking back historically, the current policy is barely 25 years old. For our seasoned veterans who served on bases worldwide during the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam era, it was not uncommon for uniformed military personnel to carry their side arms at all times on base and even in nearby towns on business. Civilian law enforcement officers were comfortable with multiplying the numbers of those who could take action should a violent outburst occur. The corporate wisdom of the day was to always be ready for any unforeseen incident. Have we changed so much we can rely on our military heroes to fight and die for us, but we canít trust them to be issued and carry weapons on base to protect not only the base infrastructure, but its most valuable assets? Is this administration going to continue to send Marines into war zones without being properly armed for political reasons and ban carrying firearms on base because of their liberal ant-gun agenda? Iím one career cop who trusts our military personnel to be armed, trained, and allowed to act. Congress should move swiftly to give our military the tools to slow this terrible trend!
Colonel Graham W. Fountain is retired state and local law enforcement executive and expert in the field of public safety policy. He served two terms as President of the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association, Commissioner and Chair of the Florida Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation Commission, The Florida Seaports Security Standards Council and the U.S. Department of Justice, Homeland Security Advisory Council. He can be reached at email@example.com