When I learned of Thursday’s active shooter tragedy targeting military personnel in Chattanooga, like so many other Americans, I was outraged. I’ve never met the four Marines, and now one Sailor, who were all murdered, but I feel a strong sense of betrayal. I deliberately choose the word “betrayal” because it is in the power of our senior military leadership and elected officials to change current policy that puts our troops in harm’s way, and yet, nothing is done. Policy, in this case, required service members to wear military uniforms and work in an unguarded office setting, yet prohibited them from carrying sidearms. Despite the fact that the military is actively targeted in the U.S. by extremist organizations, resulting in numerous recent attacks against military personnel and the death of dozens, this policy remains the same.
I do not advocate that all military service members be able to carry firearms at all times. That is just as ridiculous as the current policy. However, I do advocate that if a service member meets the requirements to be issued a “Concealed Carry Permit” by the state in which he or she lives and works, then he or she should be able to carry a firearm to their place of work. This need is especially critical if those places of employment offer no means of security, which is typically the situation at Armed Forces recruiting stations, commonly located in strip malls. Anything less is a complete insult to the Second Amendment and shows no regard for the service member.
The greatest irony in this most recent tragedy is that, of the fallen service members, they had collectively survived deployments overseas, combat missions, rocket attacks, and IED attacks, but were unable to defend themselves effectively and are dead because military policy requires them to be overt targets and prohibiting them from carrying sidearms and not providing them with adequate security. Common sense is absent when citizens, like the gentleman pictured below, arm themselves in order to protect our military personnel, who are not allowed to do so themselves. And to those political pundits I’ve seen on TV and read in columns who argue that had the fallen been armed, the outcome would have been the same because the attacker shot indiscriminately from the outside in, allowing no way for the deceased to react, I unapologetically disagree, and I firmly believe that my training and service as a Navy SEAL validate my opinion more than most.
My reasons follow.
First, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez was a coward, and had military policy not prevented its employees at recruiting stations from being armed, he probably would not have attacked it because, as I say again, he was a coward. My second point is that a Marine with a weapon, no matter how dire the circumstance, is a force I’d rather not reckon with. I’ve seen Marines and Sailors defy extreme circumstances when the odds are heavily stacked against them.
And lastly, our Second Amendment is constantly under fire. If a service member can carry a firearm as a civilian “Concealed Carry Permit” holder, he or she should be able to carry when wearing a uniform if the military won’t offer them protection. The bottom line is that policy requiring our protectors to be sitting ducks, while being afforded no protection themselves, has to be changed and will be changed only by YOU contacting your elected officials.