The Folly of Unilateral Disarmament

At Fort Hood "more guns" assuredly were "the solution to gun violence."


When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan started shooting up the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Pfc. Marquest Smith dove under a desk. A.P. reports that "he lay low for several minutes, waiting for the shooter to run out of ammunition and wishing he, too, had a gun."

Neither Smith nor the other victims of Hasan's assault had guns because soldiers on military bases within the United States generally are not allowed to carry them. Last week's shootings, which killed 13 people and wounded more than 30, demonstrated once again the folly of "gun-free zones," which attract and assist people bent on mass murder instead of deterring them.

Judging from the comments of those who support this policy of victim disarmament, Smith's desire for a gun was irrational. According to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places."

Note how the reference to "a heavily fortified army base" obscures the crucial point that the people attacked by Hasan were unarmed as a matter of policy. Also note the breathtaking inanity of Helmke's assurance that "more guns" are not "the solution to gun violence." In this case, they assuredly were.

The first people with guns to confront Hasan, two local police officers, were the ones who put a stop to his rampage. And while Sgt. Kim Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd acted heroically, they did not arrive on the scene until a crucial 10 minutes or so had elapsed and Hasan had fired more than 100 rounds.

If someone else at the processing center had a gun when Hasan started shooting, it seems likely that fewer people would have been killed or injured. Furthermore, the knowledge that some of his victims would be armed might have led him to choose a different, softer target in order to maximize the impact of his attack.

There would have been plenty of targets to choose from: any of the locations in Texas, including public schools, universities, and shopping malls, that advertise their prohibition of gun possession. The problem is that crazed killers tend not to follow such rules.

That problem was vividly illustrated by the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, which occurred in Killeen, Texas, a stone's throw from Fort Hood. In 1991 George Jo Hennard drove his pickup truck through the window of a Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, jumped out, and began firing two pistols at the defenseless customers and employees inside, killing 23 of them.

One customer, Suzanna Hupp, saw Hennard gun down her parents. Hupp later testified that she had brought a handgun with her that day but, to her bitter regret, left it in her car, as required by state law. The massacre led the Texas legislature to approve a "shall issue" law that allows any resident who meets certain objective criteria to obtain a concealed carry permit.

But people with such permits are still barred from bringing their weapons into areas designated as gun-free zones. And when a killer fires on people he knows will be unarmed, it matters little whether he has 20-round or 10-round magazines, a detail emphasized in press coverage of the Fort Hood massacre. The second or two it takes to switch magazines is a minor nuisance when the people you are shooting at cannot shoot back.

Even less relevant is the allegation that Hasan used illegal armor-piercing ammunition. The Brady Campaign bizarrely chose to highlight that claim even though there was no indication that any of Hasan's victims were wearing bullet-proof vests, let alone that his bullets penetrated them. Perhaps the group hoped that such puzzling illogic would distract people from the plain fact that having a gun is better than not having one when you are confronted by a homicidal maniac.

 Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2009 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. But Jacob, one could argue that gun-free zones have saved or created millions of lives.

    1. HA!

  2. Very droll, ed.

    In general, I agree that I should be able to carry my firearm pretty much wherever I go (with or without my concealed weapons permit) including my civilian workplace, my grocery store, and local library.

    However, I don’t necessarily fault the military for not allowing it on post, because military bases already have deeper layers of security built into them (entry control points, limited civilian access to all or parts of the installation, military police stations on each post, etc.)

    1. I worked a lot on a few different Military installations in the late 90s/early 2000s.The visible security was largely uniformed military(and plain clothes CID) not off-duty cops.

    2. And yet those who died were still virtually helpless against their attacker.

      1. This is such an outrage. How can our military have such a backwards policy and make all of these brave soldiers helpless? It makes my blood boil.

    3. ‘already have deeper layers of security built into them’

      Good to know it’s safe.

    4. deeper layers of security built into them

      …which are apparently impotent.

      1. Government incompetence in action.

        But I repeat myself. Shorter:

        Government in action.

    5. There is a really easy fix to this, simply arm the NCOs. Most NCOs are lifers and have been in the military for a few years so they are much more mentally stable. They have also received extensive training with a sidearm. There should always be someone on duty for each of the companies.

      When I was in the Marines we had six marines on duty at my barracks. Three were NCOs and the other three were junior marines. Simply arm those three NCOs and your problems would be solved, for the most part.

      Also, I am fairly sure that there was a small group of MPs that where on call at any given time just incase something like this happened. They would have been on site in a matter of minutes armed to the teeth with 16s or mp5s

      1. I had a discussion with my bro on the Ft. Hood matter. He was a petty officer on a Trident class submarine for a decade, and this is how he described his two duties. His first was to take care of his nuke. He was responsible for its technical support as an engineer, and also for one half of its launch sequence SOP. The other duty he said all of his fellow POs relished the most, and that was to be armed at all times during their duty for the purpose of shooting officers who got out of line. He expressed disappointment that none ever did. Watching Crimson Tide with him when it came out was quite a chore, as every minute of the film, in his opinion was ridiculous bull shit.

        Incidentally, he brought up the problem of gun free zones as a problem on military bases.

      2. When I was hanging around with Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children the MP’s at the gates on MCAS El Toro did not have loaded weapons. And that was a long time ago.

    6. So by your reasoning, as long as there are licensed media outlets whose job it is to report the news and publish government-approved opinion columns, there’s really no need to me to be allowed to voice my opnion.

      1. Military bases operate under a much more restrictive set of rules than society in general. Entering and abiding by those rules is voluntary (outside of a draft, I suppose).

  3. I don’t agree with logic here that gun free zones “attract” shooters. By that logic nations other than the US which have crazy strict gun laws everywhere should have much more mass shootings, but they don’t. Also, even if people were carrying, they are not carrying their guns in their hands. The shooter knows when he is going to start shooting, the innocent do not. This is why armed guards at banks have been shown to be little deterrent to stick ups.

    Also, has anyone thought about what happens when the cops show up a shooting looking for “a guy with a gun” and everyone is running around with one?

    1. yeah, the law abiding citizens with guns put their hands up. A mass shooter engages the cops.

    2. a) Mass shootings are extremely rare events by their nature, so it does not really make sense to say that “by that logic, nations other than the US … should have much more mass shootings”. There is also question of culture. For people like the Japanese, going on a killing spree would be totally against their national culture, while, in the USA, it seems to be an established pattern for the last 40 years (interestingly, such events were very rare prior to arrival of television, although the American population has been armed heavily for centuries; maybe a copycat effect plays some role there.) On the other hand, you have about zero suicide bombings in the USA.

      b) If a mass shooting really happens, it often, if not almost always, happens in zones where the attacker knows that the target population is unarmed; and it never happens in zones where the attacker knows that the target population is going to be heavily armed (gun shows, police stations, Israeli commando headquarters etc.).

      c) The police question is almost always asked by people who do not have knowledge of methods of police work… The police would do what it does always: establish secure perimeter and try to find out WTF is happening inside. This is, BTW, one of the reasons why Columbia massacre took so many lives.

      BTW the police is not that stupid to mow down everyone with a gun in their hands. The standard method is to establish perimeter, then ask everyone to drop their weapons (even the culprit).

      1. Or occasionally shoot the homeowner in the back and then try to frame him.

      2. Mass shootings are caused by media coverage. The more media coverage, the more mass shootings.

        That is a fact.

    3. Look up German mass shootings some time.

    4. There have been lots of mass shootings in foreign countries including England, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Russia, China, Finland. This is just off the top of my head.

      So what if the killer gets the first shot? That’s no excuse to allow him to empty all his magazines without being confronted.

      The key factor in all these events are that the victims are helpless. It didn’t start with gun-armed people either. Look up the term “amok.”

    5. Just because the victims don’t have their gun in their hand doesn’t mean they’re as helpless as if they had no gun at all.

      Look at Virginia Tech. Crazy Ole Cho strolled back and forth through the hallways looking for victims. It only takes one armed individual to peep his head out of a classroom and blow the shooter’s head off.

      And if there were, say, ten armed individuals in the building, I’m pretty sure the shooter wouldn’t have been able to kill as many people with as much ease.

      Oh, and if the shooter knew that, say, there were ten armed individuals in a building, I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t pick said building as a target for a massacre.

      1. I have to differ with a lot of the above. Does anyone want to argue that the US does not have a higher rate of mass shootings than most other developed nations? Please feel free to do so if you can. Also, the police themselves have consistently said that it would complicate what they would have to do in these situations (one person above mentioned establishing a perimeter a la Columbine, but I’ve heard literally dozens of police chiefs and experts since then on radio and tv say they now use more aggressive techniques because of Columbine; these techniques would be complicated if everyone were running around with a weapon).

        1. Australia, Germany, Finland have higher mass shooting per capita than US. As do many other countries.

    6. Chicago has crazy strict gun laws.

      Care to guess the murder rate there?

      1. Oh Yeah??? You’re just lying! I just know that gun laws keep people from getting shot! I just know it!!!

    7. The sheer size of the US population in comparison with many other countries also dictates that there will be more incidents, but the real question would be, are there more per capita?

      1. I didn’t realize jiggy had already brought up this point.

  4. I think there are two interesting questions here.

    1. Should property owners, such as your employer, school, government agency, etc., be able to bar firearms on their property?
    2. If yes, should they choose to do so?

    I tend to think “no” to the second, and used to think “no” to the former, but I’m not so sure now. It’s the property right of the owner vs. the bear arms right of the latter (at least to the extent the latter has to go onto that property, which might be never I guess)…

    1. In KY, they do have #1. They have the full force of asking you to leave, if you dont, you are trespassing. So, in other words, they have the same rights to bar firearms as they do mormon magic underwear.

      The interesting question (that applies to both the firearm and underwear) is if Im carrying concealed, am I carrying on your property or on my person? Or both?

    2. “Life, liberty, and property.” My right to defend my life trumps your right to manage your property. Property can be replaced, after all.

      1. You are free to keep yourself off my property. I don’t have to let you in if you don’t abide by my rules.

        1. Bullshit. If you have a public establishment, you can’t say ‘no darkies allowed’.

          At least according the current law.

          1. True, but descriminating against people who carry a gun is hardly racism, they can choose to leave it in the car. (Not that I would ask people to do that if I owned a public establishment) and as a carier, if I felt you were an idiot to ask me to not carry, I would go eat, shop,(insert apropriate action here), somewhere else.

            1. Carry anyway. That’s the whole point of “concealed carry”: no one knows you have it unless you need it. If I need it, I’m going to have far more urgent concerns than pandering to the property owner’s hoplophobia.

        2. Bullshit. That’s like saying a restaurant can restrict their patrons from discussing religion or politics at the table.

    3. If the property is open to the public and they are requiring those who enter to give up their ability to defend themselves they should be held liable for any injuries or deaths if they have not taken active steps (for example metal detectors staffed by armed security) to prevent armed criminals from entering the property.

      1. Seems to me that the problem now is the opposite. If you don’t have a ‘ban’ on firearms in your work place and some nutjob walks in and shoots the place up, the victims (or their survivors more precisely) will sue you for negligence for not having a policy against people bringing guns in. The fact that it is TOTALLY USELESS to ban guns (for the intent of preventing murder) when the existing bans on murder aren’t sufficient deterent won’t be a consideration in a lawsuit.

        I’d love to see the day when someone actually says their policy is to allow gun possession to ‘ensure the safety of their employees and customers’. I won’t hold my breath however.

  5. I’m not sure why the government as an owner of property should not have the same right in the exercise of its ownership as a private owner…Have to think about this…

    1. For the same reason why the government cannot promote religion or ban speech, while private persons can.

    2. Government don’t have rights. They have powers authorized to them.

      1. Wow…he gets it. So few people do, which is why we’re in the situation we’re in.

      2. *tears of joy*

      3. Hear hear!
        Isn’t that why some guys wrote some really long piece of paper a ways back about that…

  6. Would Mr. Helmke, if being shot at in one of these “gun free-fire zones”, upon calling the police insist they leave behind their ‘guns designed only to kill’ and their ‘armor piercing ammo’, coming to his aid with only those special skills which under the Brady Regime allows only those with these ‘special skills’ the privilege,(not the right) to possess firearms? Furthermore, if shot himself, would he, hopefully several breaths away from a last breath, wonder how under such a regime as the Brady Bunch wish to inflict upon everyone, ever suspect that someone may just not give a flying ‘phock’ about his precious, precious concerns? Finally, will he ever claim the opposite of his preposterous claim above? After the killer in the Colorado church was stopped by a volunteer,female security guard using her own weapon, did his say to nods of approval from those whose reason is as equally “fortified” as is his by the ‘rotten meat breed flies’ therefore “guns cause violence”, did he say “If only she had been unarmed, everything would have turned out better”? After all, the killer was stopped in his killing tracks by…wait for it…gun violence.
    (If, in the Catholic Church I attend, I ever hear a loud crash, you can be sure my understanding of Arabic will translate alla-who ock-bar as ‘close to engage’, or ‘Gun violence? I got your gun violence right here.’ Or Sherman’s “War is the remedy they have chosen. Let us give it to them, and all they want of it.)

  7. Also note the breathtaking inanity of Helmke’s assurance that “more guns” are not “the solution to gun violence.” In this case, they assuredly were.

    Jacob, your statement isn’t quite as inane as Helmke’s, but it does come close. I think you can make the case that allowing individuals to carry guns would make a quicker response to murderers like Hasan more likely, but is it really “a solution to gun violence”? Do you think most of these shooters make a rational assessment of their chances of escaping these attacks with their lives and would be deterred if they realized they’d be more likely to die in the attack?

    1. It’s not a stretch to argue that even if they wish to die, if they are on a murderous rampage then they want to cause harm. If they stand a reasonable likelihood of not being able to accomplish their goals prior to being plugged, it might figure into their decisions. Just because someone is deranged doesn’t mean that there isn’t some sort of logic to their decisions.

      But your point doesn’t really address Jacob’s at all: he never argued that there is some sort of rational calculus about escape in the minds of these people, but rather about doing as much harm as possible, and there, the likelihood of being shot back would certainly affect their decisions, in the same way that bullies pick on wimpy kids, not the ones they know who are roughly the size of a barge and spend every afternoon at the dojo kicking the stuffing out of the other karate kids.

      1. Jacob suggested that more guns is the solution to gun violence. I think you can put guns in the hands of as many “good guys” as you want, and it won’t solve the problem of gun violence.

        1. So what about taking guns away from the hands of the government’s agents? Will that do the trick?

          1. I don’t think that by itself would do it.

        2. While putting guns in “good guys” hands won’t “solve” the problem of gun violence, i.e. prevent entirely the problem, a strong argument can and is made that it limits the scale of the damage inflicted by homicidal shooters by potentially bringing their shootings to a quicker close.

    2. “Do you think most of these shooters make a rational assessment of their chances of escaping these attacks with their lives and would be deterred if they realized they’d be more likely to die in the attack?”
      Who cares as long as the shooter dies as soon as possible.

    3. Only supreme idiots (there are plenty of them out there, of course) would argue that guns wouldn’t be good to have if a mass shooter pops up. The more valid argument is whether people carrying guns around all the time would lead to more violence because of the ease of escalating.

      I can see merit to both sides, and personally I’d prefer to see concealed carry be given to anyone who passes some sort of licensing (no more difficult or expensive than getting a driver’s license) and can keep it as long as they don’t commit any crimes or have any mental health issues. Private entities should be allowed to bar guns in their own property.

      1. In the “Wild” West when almost everyone was packing, some towns had higher gun violence rates, but vast majority of cases were almost always the result of drunks starting fights with each other. The average person who wasn’t looking to start trouble was generally safe and crimes like rape and mugging were virtually non-existent. I’m also not aware of many mass shootings in those times.

        1. Crime was very low in the Wild West. It’s much worse in ‘gun-free’ Chicago.

        2. but vast majority of cases were almost always the result of drunks starting fights with each other

          That was my entire point. Are the odds of being shot by some drunk that would have otherwise been unarmed greater than the odds of being shot by a psycho (or robber) that would have otherwise been killed of prevented from shooting.

  8. It’s pretty clear to me that regardless of gun control or terrorism or political correctness or whatever…

    …that the US Army comes out of this not looking too good at all. This looks like a world class screwup from about eight different directions.

  9. Politician: I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that the police were the only ones in authority to carry guns in a gun-free zone.

    Political Aide: That’s right, sir, law enforcement officers are the only persons authorized to do so. And although I, uh, hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like, uh, the gunman exceeded his authority.

    1. i have always thought we should just make murder illegal and be done with it.

      1. Big Murder has too many lobbyists. They’d just write legislation that says it’s not murder if you wear a different color shirt when doing it.

      2. Good point! And it seems so obvious!

    2. Well, I, uh, don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir.

  10. I am no expert, but my understanding is that the military doesn’t necessarily have to abide by the Constitution. Specifically, when it comes to security. Military bases are allowed much higher security standards than what is Constitutionally allowed in the public.

    1. The military does have to abide by the Constitution. The Constitution does not strip them of the right to bear arms. Only Congress found a way to do that, in violation of the Constitution, actually.

      1. The Constitution give the Congress the power to regulate the military in a different manner than they regulate the rest of us. I read it in an Article.

  11. Parse – People like Hasan figure they are going to die at some point during the attack. However, their objective is to kill as many innocent people as they can before that happens. That’s why they choose gun-free zones. They know people won’t be armed and can’t shoot back. This allows for a much higher body count.

    If Hasan just wanted to die he would have blown his brains out at home. He wanted to kill people. He wanted to destroy families. That’s exactly what he did.

    As to the comment made about a cop showing up and seeing a bunch of guys with guns…fair point. However, the good guys will put their guns down once they see uniformed police officers, or are ordered to do so by same.

    1. Hasan is a murdering terrorist traitor and everything you say there is true. If even the NCOs were armed, like a Marine suggested here, this terrorist would have been dead a lot quicker and the good people would still be alive.

      1. I’m not so sure you can label him a terrorist, Suki. If we take the definition of terrorism as the targeted killing of non-combatants in an effort to advance a political objective, soldiers don’t really count as non-combatants, which means that this wasn’t an act of terrorism per se.

        Traitor, yes. Murderer, yes. Terrorist, no.

        I think even you would admit that there is a distinct difference between Hamas gunmen breaking into an IDF base and opening up fire and Hamas gunmen walking into a pizzeria in Tel Aviv and opening fire…

  12. Gun free zones do not create a safe haven from gun violence, as the proponents of gun free zones suggest, they only provide a shooting gallary free from reprisal for those who wish to commit murder. A deadly advantage to criminals, if you are in a gun free zone with a gun by definition you are a criminal.Killing by these Mass murderers comes to a halt only when the good guys with guns show up.

    As to what happens when the cops show up at a shooting where the good guys are also armed, that’s simple, they can lead the cops to the “Mass Murderer Wannabe” lying lifeless on the ground thanks to the fact that they were armed too.

    1. By the time the cops showed up, Hasan would have been dead or incapacitated and everyone who had a gun would have holstered it and rushed to attend to any victims. The ambulance would probably be on the scene already.

  13. OK, then . . . a gun-free zone in a *military base.* In *Texas.*

    I don’t know if the shooter will be adjudicated insane, but the Army authorities who disarmed their own soldiers are as insane as it gets.

    ‘This is a military base – you can’t carry your guns here!’

    That’s even sillier than ‘gentlemen, you can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!’

    1. Reminds me of a story a few years back about a bunch of Nat’l Guard troops a few years back who were going on a commercial flight. Given who they were, apparently they were allowed to carry on their (unloaded) weapons, but the TSA folks made them surrender pocket knives.

      (I admit, the story doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I don’t know if it’s because it isn’t true or because the gov. just doesn’t make a lot of sense.)

  14. To avoid such situation government must review the policy on gun’s holding.

  15. TP, you are correct. You are no expert on the Constitution, as you did not tell us specifically where or what in the Constitution enumerates allowable security. Remember, the Constitution exist to protect individual citizens from the government. And the best defense of the Citizen from the tyranny of government is well enumerated by that number in the Bill of Rights greater than ‘1’ and less than ‘3’.

    1. What about number 4? Are military personnel protected by the Fourth Amendment? How about the Fifth?

    2. What about the habeas corpus? Are military bases areas of Martial Law? That would provide an exemption to habeas corpus. Is it not habeas corpus that protects us from Martial Law? Like I said, I’m no expert.

    3. Do military personnel need to be protected from the government? They are agents of the government, are they not? We’re not talking about a civilian militia.

  16. If the anti-gunners’ arguments held any water at all, this processing center on Fort Hood should have been among the safest places on earth and Major Hasan should have been incapable of committing such crimes due to the extensive government screening he went through.

  17. If Hasan just wanted to die he would have blown his brains out at home. He wanted to kill people.

    I agree. I have trouble understanding why “suicide by cop” is said to be so much, um, easier than, say, closing one’s eyes and stepping off a rooftop.

    1. To many, suicide is immoral and a deadly sin. Getting gunned down by the police isn’t suicide per se. You are getting shot by someone else, not shooting yourself.

      1. Yup, and when I jump in front of a big truck on the interstate, it’s just a fatal accident.

      2. To many, suicide is immoral and a deadly sin. Getting gunned down by the police isn’t suicide per se.

        Sorry — anybody who believes suicide is “immoral and a deadly sin” oughts know Ceiling Cat can read their true intentions.

        1. Lying to get into heaven is cool.

          Supplicant: It wasn’t suicide, it was death-by-cop.

          St. Peter: Uh-huh. Next!

          *Hits the Trap-Door Button*

  18. Are military bases areas of Martial Law?

    I live within a half mile of Fort Rucker, Alabama. I travel through the base several times a month and attend events on the base. There is a large sign at the gate as you enter the base that says basically that on entering the installation I am subject to having my vehicle and my person searched at their discretion.

  19. I might be misremembering, but I could swear that on-duty MPs carry side-arms even on post.

    And I do have to say that everyone carrying weapons around on-post would feel a lot like deployment.

    Helmke’s comments are just stupid, though.

    1. I think you are right. MPs are allowed to carry firearms. The question that arises, in my mind, is: If the military was not so overstretched by fighting two wars with an all volunteer army, would there have been enough MP on base to provide the proper security? As it stands now, the DoD is allowed to hire public sector police to provide base security during times of deployment and for cost cutting. I would think MPs are specifically trained to deal with highly skilled and trained criminal soldiers than local police that are trained to deal more with you’re average run-of-the-mill criminal.

      1. An interesting point that I never thought about until now.

      2. Of course, if we weren’t stretched thin fighting two wars at once, then would all of those targets have been lined up to be processed in the first place?

  20. TP, the answers to your questions can be found here

    This is an overview of rules concerning military personnel that includes search and seizure. It is in layman’s terms, not legaleze.

  21. Art P.O.G., The MPs here carry sidearms when onduty, even when wandering through the yearly xmas bazaar, which is open to the civilian public. When manning the gates, the civilian security have sidearms and the MPs usually have a military rifle in their hands. In my ignorance, I can’t tell you what rifle it is.

    1. I’d guess it’d be an M4 carbine, but if they got jobbed, an M16A2. And I see that Agent Provocateur already made the same point I did. D’oh!

      1. Aren’t they pretty much A3’s now?

        1. No, they are A4s. The A3 was never introduced to the grunts because it was just a fully automatic version of the A2. If it was an army base then there is a good chance that it was an m4 but the majority of marines, airmen, and seamen carry 16s.

  22. What’s this business about Hasan having contacted or attempted to contact someone with al Qaeda? The shooting aside, isn’t that something we should discourage in our military personnel?

    1. We get CID briefings discouraging that sort of behavior about twice a year.

      1. Did we allow Nazis to serve in the armed services in WWII? Wow, I must be crazy naive or something.

      2. Thank you for your service to our country APOG!

      3. Actually, they’re Counterintelligence briefs (CI), not Criminal Investigation Division (CID) briefs. It’s called the SAEDA program – Subversion and Espionage Directed against the Army.

  23. Pro Lib, that would be religious discrimination.

    (before you put my testicles in the vice, that was sposed to be snark)

  24. Getting back to specific topic about guns – on military bases – My guess is, correct me if I’m wrong, there is probably a set of reasons everyone isn’t allowed to carry their weapons on bases going back many years… most likely safety, as in accidental shooting accidents… On any any base you will have highly trained and competent professionals all the way down to doofus’ who probably shouldn’t be allowed to carry a pointy stick. While predictability will, in this case be under investigation I’m not sure anything will come of it except the knowledge that CYA syndrome is still alive and well with every agency that has had a hand in this one… humans can be cunning mf’s when they want to be. A guy intent on killing a bunch of folks is going to find a way – this asshole, if everyone had weapons on the base, probably would have then used grenades or some other mass killing device…

  25. Also, since Soldiers spend a lot of time dressed alike, I imagine a standoff situation could actually get a lot more confusing if everyone was armed.

    1. It’s the guy yelling “Allahu Akbar”

  26. People on either side of the gun rights debate trying to score points off this are just wrong, in my not-so-humble opinion.

  27. I’m surprised they don’t require everyone in the military to wear explosive collars that can be set off remotely.

    1. sshhh, you’ll give the gubmint ideas.. If we all had one = no crime, easy peasy nice and easy… If you’re not doing anything wrong, no worries… for the children

    2. We should keep that remote in a cabinet or something. One that your fat-ass can’t fit into!


  28. NewsBusters — Open Thread: Ft. Hood’s implications for gun rights…..pen-thread

  29. What the hell, a gun thread and not a single deranged comment from Dave W. yet? Well, here’s some troll-bait he won’t be able to resist.

    High Fructose Corn Syrup: A Recipe For Hypertension, Study Finds

  30. Didn’t Jefferson remark that the beauty of the Second Amendment was that it would never be needed until they tried to take it away?

  31. Right-wing gun nut apologists like Sullum, who I suspect has never fired a gun, think that anybody can shoot like Clint Eastwood in the movies. If everybody were packing a piece, accidental shootings would be the number one cause of death. Idiot.

    1. Sure, ’cause trillions of Americans died from just that on the frontier. Moron.

      1. Shit, why stop at guns? Let’s ban cars.

        1. And swimming pools.

          Don’t get me started.

          1. Bath tubs.

              1. Fast food.

                1. Stupidity. Oh, wait, nature already does that, albeit sometimes delayed.

                2. Plastic buckets and bags…

        2. Banning cars was my 1st thought as well. They actually ARE the number one cause of death for ages 16-20something.

          Should we do it? Nah, the benefits of having cars outweigh the cost in lives. Same thing with an armed populace.

          Sure, some stupids wouldn’t be responsible and get themselves and any bystanders killed. Just like cars.

          Sadly, making that comparison will end up with a graduated license system for carry permits. You’d have to carry around a prop gun for a year, after you spent 80 hours with someone else holding the trigger with you at the range.

    2. I know! Like when I go to a gun show where so many are armed, and I have to step over all the accidentally shot bodies just to get inside. Indeed, I’ve been shot so many times at gun shows and the like that I can feel the wind whistling straight through my bones.

      I would hope, silly troll, that SOLDIERS, at the freakin’ least, could be counted on to shoot reasonably straight.

      Have you ever fired a gun? Or is your disdain for them so strong that you could never do something so icky and distasteful? Perhaps you should go to a nice range somewhere and see if the reality is different than what you expect.

      Oh, I hope the State remembers you in its prayers, good, obedient little subject that you are.

      1. Same when beloved and I go to the range! The walkways drenched in blood. The field house stacked with shattered body parts. The things we endure to remain proficient.

    3. We should all thank Morris for taking the time to comment. It’s always been hard for him to tear himself away from his hobby of licking the assholes of roadkill raccoons bright and shining clean.

    4. Your statement overflows with false assumptions, ad hominem and fallacies of logic,
      thereby refuting itself.

    5. It’s obvious: ban fetuses like Morris.

    6. Ad-homenim much? How does a baseless generalization about the author advance your argument?

  32. Anybody have comparative statistics on accidental shooting deaths in Arizona vs New York?

    1. Unintentional Firearms Deaths, per 100,000 people: for 2006

      9 deaths in a population of 6,178,251 – rate of 0.15

      New York:
      12 deaths in a population of 19,367,028 – rate of 0.06

      Data are from the CDC –

      Use their website to search for the rates for 1981-2006. The 2006 data, which I posted here, is the most recent.

  33. The military bureaucracy is one of the biggest collection of control freaks. They believe the consequences (paperwork, legal hassles, etc.) of an accidental firearms discharge on a base are so huge, it’s easier (from their point of view) to ban firearms carry.

    From their point of view, they have a point. 18-year-olds, testosterone, and live weapons are a potent mix. That’s the key reason firearms are banned in barracks. This can be alleviated somewhat with proper training, but that costs a hell of a lot. Also be aware that, due to the “tooth to tail ratio” of warriors versus support personnel, the actual percentage of troops, who are fully trained in handling firearms, is much lower than you would expect. The warriors get all the training they need; the support troops only get weapons familiarization, and only if their duties require it (i.e., possible deployment to a hostile region). Thus, the cost of training everyone up to a given standard would be high. So, from a bureaucrat’s point of view, it’s not cost-effective nor efficient to do so. (I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just the way bureaucracies behave)

    1. I saw this in Germany at Camp May in the mid 80’s, on the old Czech border.

      The SOP was that our M16’s weren’t loaded, and all the ammo was stored back at the camp while we patrolled the border in a very unarmed manner.

      The REMFs were scared to death that we were going to create an international incident.

      Also we couldn’t look directly at the fucking reds either. If you did, the sore-ass REMFs at Division HQ would Article 15 you once they received photos from the KGB of you and the German representative from the Bundeswer waving bottles of Coca-Cola at the Czech border guards, and encouraging them to make a run for it.

  34. WTF is this pingback thing that clutters my screen?

  35. Anyone have any stats on, say, accidental gun deaths vs. true blue instances of guns being used for self defense?

    Because it would be dumb to have a gun ownership policy based on some people’s Rambo fantasies.

    1. It would be foolish to have a gun control policy based on some people’s irrational fear of teh scary guns.

      1. Why not, it works for drugs.


      2. Nope, nothing to be afraid of. They’re just machines designed for killing people.

    2. sure do! Here’s a link to GunCite showing accidental deaths. Notice how small firearms are compared to pools and cars

      guncite stats

  36. How about crimes committed against the unarmed? Would they happen as often?

    1. Not if they’re armed i guess. Wait, was that a trick question? 😉

  37. If he knew others there would have guns then he would have used a couple of hand grenades instead surely?

    1. One would think it would be considerably more difficult to get hand grenades than a gun, or at the very least that it would attract more attention.

  38. Gun Control: A Jewish Look
    by Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz *
    On March 24th, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, two junior high school students armed with rifles murdered four of their schoolmates and one of their teachers. These horrible murders reignited the ongoing international debate about gun control. In Canada, the Canadian parliament has passed several major pieces of legislation requiring gun control. In 1995, it passed Bill C-68 requiring all guns and rifles to be included in a national gun registry. This followed previous laws which prohibited machine guns, and required the training and screening of all owners of firearms. To opponents of gun control laws, these laws are a nuisance for law abiding gun owners, and have little effect on violent crime. Proponents of these laws point to extensive academic research that these laws save lives and increase safety. What does Jewish law (halacha) have to say about this issue?

    In Judaism, safety is a religious concern. The Bible requires that a roof be properly gated, in order to prevent people from falling off of it (Deuteronomy 22:8). This commandment is understood by the Talmud as a general directive to remove any safety hazard (Bava Kamma 15b; Shulchan Aruch CM 427:8). Contemporary rabbinic authorities include in this commandment an employer’s responsibility to ensure occupational safety (Piskei Uziel 47) and an injunction against reckless driving (Minchat Yitzchak 8:148). Someone who refuses to remove a safety hazard can be punished by excommunication (YD 334:7). In general, safety regulations are treated with far greater stringency than any other section of halacha (YD 116:7). Clearly, any Jewish view of gun control would place high value on safety.

    In the Talmud there are specific regulations that resemble gun control. There is a law against owning a dangerous dog (Bava Kamma 79a). One who owns a dangerous dog must keep it tied in metal chains at all times (CM 409:3). Even if the dog is defanged or trained not to harm people, it must be chained because it may frighten strangers, and as a result may cause stress related injuries such as miscarriage and heart attacks (Shabbat 63b). One of the more pious Rabbis, Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair, was so stringent about this law that he refused to own mules, because they can occasionally cause injury (Hullin 7b; Terumat Hadeshen 2:105). However, there were instances where allowances were made. In border communities, where there is a threat of marauders, owners of dangerous dogs may unchain them at night for protection. Some say that any dangerous city is similar to a border community (CM 409:3).These sources demonstrate that halacha would require any gun to be carefully locked at all times, with allowances made in cases where the gun is actively being used for security. Those who are more stringent would avoid guns completely. (It should also be noted that many authorities prohibit hunting for sport; Rama OH 316:2, Darchei Teshuva YD 117:44)

    There is a second halacha that is relevant to this issue. The Talmud prohibits someone from selling offensive weapons to idol worshippers and suspected criminals (Avodah Zarah 15b; YD 151:5-6). The rule against selling to idol worshippers is based on an assumption that the idol worshippers will use them against Jews; however, if the Jews are allied with the idol worshippers, it is permitted to sell them arms. It is likewise prohibited to sell such weapons to anyone suspected of reselling them to criminals. This halacha requires that the buyers of firearms be carefully screened, and resembles in many ways laws requiring a national registry of gun and rifle owners.

    Although halacha is extremely concerned about safety, it does not prohibit the ownership of guns. However, recognizing that a gun is a dangerous object, halacha (like many current gun control laws) requires that owners and vendors of guns take all possible precautions to prevent their guns from causing any harm.

  39. No one’s probably reading this thread any more, but I’d like to point out one simple fact:

    It’s complete and utter horseshit to claim that Hasan was firing the 5.7 penetrator rounds designed to defeat soft body armor. That ammunition is strictly controlled and completely unavailable to anyone except the military and law enforcement organizations that are authorized to purchase it.

  40. Military personnel are not regular citizens once they sign up voluntarily they become like slaves. They cannot quit like you or I. If they “quit” they go to jail. Sure, the stupid slaves do this to themselves “voluntarily”, but it still does not make sense to have your slaves walking around armed. The military slave masters are not stupid, they don’t want armed slaves.

    1. Except that they rely on their slaves to back them up come a fight.

  41. Of course the slave masters are not happy when their property is made worthless(killed). However, it is SOP to turn any killings into stories that benefit their larger cause. For example if a football star is killed then lie about it and make up a dramatic story to encourage more idiots to join the slave wars.

    If a pretty girl is taken hostage then make up a lie to make it sexy and encourage more idiots to join the slave wars.

    If all the generals get a job with a cotnractor(like Blackwater) then when blackwater kills a bunch of innocent kids just have the generals drop a few bags of money into the hands of the puppet Iraq government to shut them up. Problem solved.

  42. What’s up with the “he’d have just used hand grenades” comments? Lobbing hand grenades doesn’t make you bulletproof.

  43. God help this Country if the Brady nuts get any more real power than they already have. There’s nothing worse than zealots who have no clue lecturing the rest of us about “gun safety”. Disgraceful. It is also unbelievable that at a Military Post, guns are banned. Obviously, the P.C. police are more concernd about our dangerous Troops than TERRORISTS! Shameful…

  44. Bryan, don’t you understand, you can go to any gun show in the country, and if you ask the guy behind the table with a wink and a nod, he’ll happily sell you case of hand grenades!

    Geeze, I thought everybody knew this!

  45. I’m still not sure whey the government AS property owner could not rightly tell people they can’t bring guns onto the property. Yes, yes, government’s don’t have rights, but when it owns property it has most of the rights a private owner would, and it probably should. Even in Libertopia there will be some government owned property, like military bases or police departments. They can’t establish who can or can’t carry weapons on their property?

  46. Note this is a different question than SHOULD they establish such places as gun free zones. As Sullum argues perhaps they should.

    1. It would depend on how secure they can hold the place.

  47. Also be aware that, due to the “tooth to tail ratio” of warriors versus support personnel, the actual percentage of troops, who are fully trained in handling firearms, is much lower than you would expect. The warriors get all the training they need; the support troops only get weapons familiarization, and only if their duties require it —-

    Bob is right. As for added security like Entry Control Points, that’s a joke. You go through the gate in the morning when there is a half mile line. Those guys working the gates are barely checking IDs, let alone searching vehicles.

  48. The arm the NCO’s comment early was pretty spot on. That would arm about 1/3 of the base, but mean that the kids right out of HS would still be unarmed for a couple of years while they get a bit more training etc.

  49. Logic (or something else) may suggest that an ordinary citizen armed with a legally concealed weapon would have stopped Hasan. Facts, however, reveal that no private citizen without law enforcement has ever used a lawful concealed weapon to stop a mass murder (two or more victims) in progress. This with 3 million to 5 million concealed carry permit holders in the U.S., many going back decades, and numerous mass murders during that period, including many occurring in places where concealed carry is allowed. The evidence thus strongly suggests that allowing minimally trained, inadequately screened (Virginia issued Hasan a concealed carry permit and at least three other 2009 mass murderers had similar permits from other states), utterly unsupervised ordinary citizens to legally hide loaded pistols under their coats may make some people feel more secure, but in fact it doesn’t make — or at least hasn’t made — anybody safer.

    1. Vice Principal Joe Myrick in Pearl Mississippi stopped Luke Woodham after he shot students at the High School and was driving to the Middle School.

      Myrick could have prevented more shootings at the High School but he had to leave the campus to get his weapon. (The schools are ‘Gun-Free Zones’.)

    2. first of all – I see what you did there. If a permit holder stopped the shooter before they got going; that wouldn’t count? Secondly – Jeanne Assam. (Or the mall in Utah where the person who took the shooter down happened to be an off-duty cop?)

      Thirdly – which mass shootings took place in a non-designated-victim zone?

    3. Exactly how common are mass murders? Why don’t you look up how many other violent crimes have been stopped by armed civilians?

      1. Jeanne Assam is a former cop. Joel Myrick’s weapon was carried in his car, not his pocket. Mass shootings by Michael McClendon (rural/small town) and George Sodini (fitness center) are recent cases of mass shootings in places where guns are allowed. Both McClendon and Sodini, incidentally, possessed concealed carry permits.

        1. “Former cop” is an ordinary citizen for me. And for you?

          1. Marian: It’s relevant because every time a mass shooting occurs, advocates of expanded concealed carry privileges say a concealed carry permit holder would have stopped it before a cop, ex-cop, off-duty cop or someone else with more than a day of weapons training arrived. They say the reason so many died is that concealed carry permit holders were prohibited from carrying their hidden pistols. Of course, concealed carry permit holders have been present in at least four 2009 mass shootings totaling 32 dead. They were the killers.

            1. How about some evidence for a non-brady source to back that assertion up?

              I would like to see some trustworthy proof. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

              1. Thanks for your question, Mr. Turner. Following are links to trustworthy reports that concealed carry permits had been issued to 2009 mass murderers: Richard Poplawski,; and George Sodini,…..2-455.stm. I am sending the other two separately, as this comment thread allows only two links per post.

              2. Here are two more: Frank Garcia,…..ell-phone, and Michael McClendon,…..And_Policy

  50. jiggy|11.11.09 @ 1:23PM|#
    Australia, Germany, Finland have higher mass shooting per capita than US. As do many other countries.

    Is there any infor that can actually back this up.

    Part of me suspects you are quite correct. All of those countries have had far more mass shootings than most people realize. Even if the above statement is not absolutely correct the numbers per capita are much closer than they seem to be basedon the sheer number of reported events in the US.

    When You come right down to it these events are rare even in the US and seem to come in clusters.

    Also Japan has had several mass stabbings.

  51. The allegation that Hasan used armor piercing bullets is false on its face. The 5.7 mm pistol will use an armor piercing round, but obtaining the round is nigh unto impossible unless you are a police department or the military (who don’t use the 5.7mm rifle or pistol, and thus don’t order them).

    Also, almost any rifle round, including the 5.7 non-armor piercing, will penetrate a bullet-proof vest and most body armor. That’s because of its speed and foot-pounds of energy on the target. The 5.7mm was first developed as a rifle and (at the request of police officials) as a pistol to be used against miscreants who might be using body armorm when used with a special, armor piercing round (e.g., against such as the bank robbers in California a few years ago).

    So far as I have read, no one has reported what his “other” pistol might have been, though there have been many reports that he had two.

  52. Other pistol is reported to be .357 Magnum, and was not fired.
    Soldiers are disarmed by DoD Instruction DoD 5210.56.

  53. The irony is that if this government-psychiatrist had “gone postal” out of the army base in Texas, fewer would have been harmed as Texans are armed and would have brought down this miscreant.

  54. I am a Utahn with a Concealed Weapon Permit. In Utah, you are allowed to carry in schools, colleges and public properties (excluding Courts and airports and the like).

    Gee, anyone heard of a school shooting in Utah? The last time someone attempted this in Utah, he was gunned down by an off-duty cop with a concealed pistol.

  55. Hey Brady retards! I have ready access to guns in my home and so should responisble soldiers!

    I post here because you do not allow serious rebuttals on your site.

  56. The Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics says 0.75 percent of annual homicides involve three or more victims. Assume all multiple-victim homicides involve guns. Then 0.75 percent of 11,346 gun homicides in 2005 equals about 85 annual deaths in multiple-victim firearm homicides. Here’s a link to the stats:

  57. WastingtonDC: Some of the Ft. Hood victims pictured were long service military. They might have been Homeland Defense In Depth Volunteers, had Bush 43, as we suggested, ordered the millions of long service veterans, active, reserve, retired and disabled, to train with their local units, and be annually re-qualified physically and mentally, to carry their choice of side arms at all times, to serve as our ever present terror tripwires. HDF issued PDA’s replace volunteer’s cell phones, alert the HDF net, draw a HDF flash crowd to any terror incident and work a miracle of defense in depth, for American soft targets. Of course, a military experienced in the annual review of those millions of volunteers for armed service in Obama’s Homeland Defense Militia Mission, would have removed the shooter at Ft Hood, during his own reviews based on the evidence now proven to have been available, long before his attack.
    Up to six long service victims at Ft. Hood, had they been honored with the Defense in Depth mission, and carrying their choice of side arms, openly or concealed, to protect our soft targets, would have limited the death toll at Ft. Hood, just as Israeli military people do, to the first few victims, and the murderer. Note the many attacks in Israel by terrorists with axes, bulldozers, and other large vehicles, most of which are stopped, within minutes, when one of Isreal’s active, retired, or military veterans shoots the murderer down with their personal or issued arms.
    While Bush 43’s handlers may have denied him access to the White Paper we presented to a staffer at a President’s club meeting, who promised faithfully to get it to the CINC, perhaps some military person assigned to our present CINC will risk their career and provide him a copy of the delfmast article in the Armed Forces Journal: The Obama Militia Homeland Defense in Depth Mission. Google delfmast, for a link to Too Few AFJ.
    The article reprises the White Paper handed to the Bush 43 folks, and describes the single, legal CINC order, immune to congressional, police and bureaucrat union meddling, that will put an Obama Militia of millions of long service military people, most already being paid by the taxpayers, with high clearances, and requisite skills, on duty, as armed volunteers, everywhere in America that they work, play, pray, or travel, to serve and protect, as they have proven, by long service that they know how to do. Unlike our clueless politicians, all long service veterans work for the (One) CINC, and will all carry out that order with the immediate effect of making American interests, everywhere, denied territory for terrorists, domestic or foreign.
    Of course, the honor of the Obama Militia Mission will greatly improve active and reserve retention of the limitless thousands of our volunteers, active and reservists who simply cannot bring themselves to waste 30 drills annually and their annual active duty two weeks, in writing memos to each other, instead of working and training with their active duty commands, as Bush 43 learned during his years as a Reserve Pilot. Those retention and recruitment gains will save billions annually, forever, and provide adequate National Guard and Reserve volunteers to back up, or more accurately in today’s military, to augment, the active forces.
    That legal CINC order would comprise a negative cost solution to the trillion dollar costs associated with necessary defense in depth, that does not presently exist, for our millions of soft targets and the multi-billion costs associated with continuing losses of far too many fine young officers and senior enlisted who leave the active and reserve forces at the peak of their value to the military. It should appeal to the CINC, as it appeals to any taxpayer, and it certainly would honor the volunteers who have dedicated a large portion or all of their working lives to protecting and defending America. It would also, as proven by the presence of unarmed military volunteers who died on 9/11 planes, VA Tech, and Ft. Hood, result in terminating those attacks, with less loss of life, with a single aircraft safe bullet, from the often present volunteer’s concealed weapon, fired at close range, from behind the terrorist.

  58. Has anyone ever asked this question? Ever herd of someone firing at innocent people at the gun shows? That would be stupid considering everyone is armed to the teeth!! If guns kill people do pencils write mispelled words?

  59. On December 6, 1989, a young man entered a classroom at the engineering school of the University of Montreal, lined up the female students against a wall and shot them all with an assault rifle. He then was heard to say “Oh my God, what have I done?” and blew his head off. Later, the investigation revealed that he thought of himself as a victim of a conspiracy to exclude him from admission to make room for less-deserving women.

    Details are vague, with apologies, I no longer live in Montreal and that was twenty years ago.

    If all students had been armed in that class, would the death count be less? Perhaps but I happen to doubt it. My direct observations of sudden unpredictable acts of violence is that, whatever their opinions on the topic, most people just freeze. A friend of mine was brutally raped, several times in several ways, in her home. She never even tried to defend herself and is wounded physically and psychologically to this day. At the time, she had a third dan black belt in karate and was teaching it for a living. She could have killed or crippled the rapist in three seconds. Why not? “I was afraid to hurt him” was the answer.

    Handgun or antelope jawbone, carrying a weapon is not a complete answer. More important are the will and skill to use it when needed, which I see as a duty for parents to impart to their children. Currently abdicated by most.

    Since I became a father, I have been living in a state of peaceful paranoia. Anywhere I go with my daughter, I am on the lookout for danger to her and doing inventory of means to protect her. I do not carry a handgun simply because I do not have the skills to use it and no time to acquire them. I do carry a can of Mace, grade four. Drops an enraged bear in one second.

  60. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

  61. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

  62. Has anyone ever asked this question? Ever herd of someone firing at innocent people at the gun shows? That would be stupid considering everyone is armed to the teeth!! If guns kill people do pencils write mispelled words?
    reply to this

  63. Another excellent post, thank you, this is why I continue visiting here!

  64. I agree with Ed that gun-free zones have saved or created millions of lives, however this doesn’t mean it is applicable on all places. We should also be able to carry ours in other places.
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  65. Send your school choir down next year and we’ll show them.

  66. Interesting article. I have a gun too

  67. Eh bien, je suis un bon poste watcher vous pouvez dire et je ne donne pas une seule raison de critiquer ou de donner une bonne critique ? un poste. Je lis des blogs de 5 derni?res ann?es et ce blog est vraiment bon cet ?crivain a les capacit?s pour faire avancer les choses i aimerais voir nouveau poste par vous Merci
    ????? ???

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