Personal note from John Lott:
With all the people who I have talked to who have been present at mass public shootings over the 16 years since I first wrote about gun-free zones in the Wall Street Journal, this attack at Fort Hood was different: my second oldest son, Ryan, is stationed on the base and was a couple of blocks away from the attack.
However, as was true in the 2009 attack at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, soldiers, like my son, are banned from having weapons on base. (Here is something I wrote immediately after the Fort Hood shooting.) There are MPs and they guard the entrances, but, like police generally, they can’t be there all the time. For example, Hasan knew where MPs would be stationed. So apparently did the Navy Yard shooter.
As I wrote recently in the Pittsburg Tribune Review after the Department of Defense released its report on the Sept. 16 Washington Navy Yard shooting: the report focuses solely on how mental illness of the assailant went unreported. No one expects people to correctly identify everyone with a mental illness nor are all attacks going to be made by the mentally ill. The question is: What should be done if the screening for mental illness fails? Or when there is a terrorist plot?
Ironically, my son had previously been issued a concealed handgun permit. If he wished, he could carry a concealed handgun whenever he is off the Fort Hood base so that he could have protected himself and others. But on the base he and his fellow soldiers are defenseless.
Just like the push to ban off-duty police from carrying guns at football games, it makes no sense to ban soldiers from carrying weapons with them. The gun bans show that the concerns of gun control advocates have nothing to do with people not being trained. These people are trained, but gun control advocates still want areas to be “gun-free.” If we trust these people in combat situations, but somehow we can’t trust them at other times. With a son being near this attack, it convinces me more than ever that these gun-free zones are a mistake that leave people as sitting ducks. The problem with gun-free zones is that it is the law-abiding who obey the rules, not the people intent on committing the harm.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, a soldier who was present at the Fort Hood shooting in 2009, speaks out in favor of letting soldiers carry guns on military bases.
Retired Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot 7 times by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood in 2009, had the same view.
Sgt. Howard Ray, a survivor of the 2009, said: “When our soldiers are unarmed, they will find themselves in a situation like yesterday and in 2009.”
Retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel David G. Bolgiano, who is a former faculty member of the Department of National Security and Strategy and the U.S. Army War College, spoke out strongly against the ban: “It should sicken most Americans to realize that its warrior class is being told to ‘shelter in place’ when confronted by an active-shooter incident.”
The Obama administration’s push is for further mental health screening. But many of these mass shooters were seeing psychiatric care and still not identified as showing a “sign of any likely violence either to himself or others.” The Washington Post reports: