In the wake of a number of mass shootings aimed at military personnel, most recently in July where five U.S. service members were killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, many lawmakers have called for more open rules as to who can carry weapons on a military base. In other words, many lawmakers have realized the danger of keeping U.S. service personnel unarmed particularly when they have obviously become targets on a number of different occasions.
For this reason, negotiators have been working on the fiscal 2016 Defense Authorization bill to include language that will allow commanders of military installations more authority and choice over who is able to carry “an appropriate firearm” or “some personal weapons.”
Lawmakers in support of the new proposed rules have written in a report that “(we) remain concerned about the response times to active shooter attacks on U.S. military installations and facilities. Commanders should take steps to arm additional personnel…if they believe that arming those personnel will contribute to that goal.”
But while advocates of the proposed rules and pro-gun activists and organizations like the National Rifle Association are applauding the attempt, it would be wise not to get excited just yet.
The provisions require the Secretary of Defense to establish the relevant policy by the end of the year. This poses two problems.
First, the 2016 Defense Authorization bill may not even pass to begin with. Bickering over unrelated budget matters between Democrats, Republicans and the Obama Administration could see the bill dead on arrival. In addition to a presidential veto that has already been promised, if the budget controversy isn’t solved. Second, the bill puts the responsibility for a new policy on the shoulders of the Defense Department. Unfortunately, the Defense Department has already argued against the policy so any likely policy changes would be effectively neutralized by the anti-gun Defense Department.
In fact, it seems that the Pentagon is more entrenched with this view than ever, even after the shootings.
Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Crosson stated that the Department does not support arming all personnel, citing “safety concerns, the prohibitive costs of use-of-force and weapons training and qualification costs.”
Clearly, the White House and the Department of Defense maintain a position that sees no soldier left unarmed when being shipped overseas to secure oil fields, oil pipelines and geo-strategic positioning, but not at home when they are threatened by psychotic killers. In other words, the White House response to American military personnel who may be worried about being the victims of another mass shooting directed at them is “no guns for you.”