Today’s missive could be filed under one of three categories: “better late than never”; “too little, too late”; or “even a broken clock is right twice a day.” I will allow you, our astute and faithful readers, to make your own assessment about which one of the three best fits.
As reported by the Military Times, U.S. military personnel can now request to carry concealed handguns for protection at government facilities, according to new Defense Department directive issued last week in response to a series of deadly shootings over the last seven years.
While service members already were authorized to carry weapons as part of specific job responsibilities, the new policy allows them to apply to carry their privately owned firearms “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties,” the directive says.
It also clarifies when military recruiters can be armed, said Army Maj. Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman.
“Commanders have always had that authority to arm recruiters,” Davis told Military Times on Monday. “Some of the wording wasn’t very clear, so they’ve gone through and cleaned it up so it is very clear now that the commanders have that authority to use at their discretion.”
Effective Nov. 18, the directive culminates years of work, Davis said.
The effort began after the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, where former Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. It accelerated after the July 2015 attacks on a recruiting station and Navy reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That incident claimed the lives of four Marines and a sailor. Both lone-wolf attacks were believed to be inspired by international terrorism.
In April 2014, Spc. Ivan Lopez-Lopez killed three soldiers at Fort Hood and wounded 12 others after an argument. Lopez-Lopez killed himself when confronted by a military police officer.
Those wishing to carry a concealed personal firearm on Defense Department property must apply for permission. They have to be at least 21 years old and meet all federal, state and local laws and host-nation requirements the directive says.
The individual military services will determine requirements for those who will grant conceal-carry requests, the directive says. Those officials must have a minimum rank of lieutenant colonel, commander or the civilian equivalent.
“These authorizations will be for a maximum of 90-calendar-day increments and may be renewed for as long as the threat or circumstance necessitating arming exists,” according to the directive. Service members will not be given permission to carry a concealed handgun if they have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice “for any offense that calls into question the individual’s right to carry a firearm,” or if they have been convicted or face charges in civilian courts, the directive says.”
So, how would you classify this new directive? First of all, what took so long? And, for the record, this piece failed to mentioned some other attacks on U.S. military installations. There was Carlos Bledsoe and his shooting at the Little Rock Army recruiting station. There was the shooting on the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, DC. There was the shooting of two Airmen by an Islamic jihadist on Ramstein AB. So, here we are some seven years later, if you start with the Nidal Hasan Islamic jihadist attack on Ft. Hood, and we’re just now rectifying this? Just imagine if we had a real Commander in Chief who said, enough, fix this now, and I mean within one week of what happened at Ft. Hood in 2009. Perhaps what happened just a year ago in Chattanooga, Tenn. at the Marine recruiting station, and then at the U.S. Naval Reserve Training Facility, would not have happened.
I find it rather perplexing that the Defense Department spokesperson Army Major Jamie Davis stated, “Commanders have always had that authority to arm recruiters” — then why weren’t they armed? And give me a freaking break with this excuse that “some of the wording wasn’t very clear” — then who is the doggone Einstein who first wrote the language? Whatever happened to that simple military maxim of KISS — Keep It Simple Stupid?
Actually, these two statements are cause for more concern. When we had the shooting at the Little Rock recruiting station, where one Soldier was killed, another wounded, why was the language not “cleaned up” then, Major Davis? And the readers of AllenBWest.com want to know, who were the Commanders that decided not to arm their recruiters after this Islamic jihadist attack? And at what level was this decision delegated? To me, this is evidence of dereliction of duty on someone’s part, so Major Davis, please tell us who? What Commander decided not to arm their recruiters, and why did it take nine years to “clean up” language?
What truly angers me is when folks just assume we’re dumb, and unable to think beyond these empty PR statements. Any person, especially journalist, worth their weight would say time out and dig deeper into this. There’s no reason it should have taken our Department of Defense nine years to “clean up” language when Major Davis is telling us Commanders could’ve armed recruiters. And who was the person that told Installation Commanders they could not come up with their own directives and policies on arming troops on their bases and posts? After all, these are the Three and Two Star Generals we trust to train, deploy, employ and fight the enemy in faraway lands. So, you mean to tell me we cannot trust them to develop a policy to protect troops on their home station bases?
There’s more to this than meets the eye, and someone was trying to sneak this by us, before they head out the door. Of course, we shall never get answers to the questions I have posed; for some, “what difference at this point does it make?” However, if I were a loved one of any U.S. Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine who lost their life on a U.S. military installation after the Little Rock recruiting station and Ft. Hood Islamic jihadist attacks, I’d seek answers to these questions. Then again, we never got resolution on Benghazi or Extortion 17.
I said that there were three possible classifications for this story in the opening. I was wrong, there is another and it is FUBAR!