Yesterday morning an insane person went onto the Navy Yard in Washington, DC and killed 12 people before being shot dead by police. I got angry because of the questions in this situation that really scream for an answer.
First question: Why are our military bases “gun free zones?” Does anyone else see the utter ridiculousness of that statement? A military base being GUN FREE??? They should be one of the safest places to be. Our soldiers, seamen and airmen are trained in the use and care of weapons. So why in God’s name would a military base be a “gun free” zone? If Tuesday morning and the Ft. Hood incident showed us anything, it’s that our soldiers should be allowed to defend themselves on base with the weapons they are trained to use. How much faster and how many lives would have been saved if those on the Navy Yard had weapons available to them?
For those who argue that anyone can join the services and get gun access, that isn’t true. Any branch of the military has standards for who can and cannot enlist. There are a laundry list of reasons you can’t, from alcohol and drug abuse, to physical or medical conditions, to criminal history, to a history of psychiatric disorders. The military does intensive background checks which would turn up any of these. No system is 100% effective, and it doesn’t account for those who have been in combat and have issues stemming from that, I’ll grant you. It does keep out the nut or criminal who is just trying to get gun access.
Speaking of gun free zones, Charles W. Cooke, a writer for the National Review, tweeted several very good questions yesterday. Among them was this: “Can anyone find me a mass shooting in the last 50 years that wasn’t in a “gun free zone”? This is a serious request.” No one could. So let’s look at the last several incidents and see what we find:
— Dec. 14, 2012: Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. SCHOOL-GUN FREE
— Aug. 5, 2012: Six Sikh temple members were killed when Wade Michael Page opened fire in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. TEMPLE/CHURCH-GUN FREE
— July 20, 2012: During the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58. THEATER/MALL-GUN FREE
— January 8, 2011, Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen others were shot during a constituent meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in Tuscon, AZ. NOT GUN FREE, OUTDOOR PUBLIC PLACE
— Nov. 5, 2009: Forty-three people were shot by Nidal Malik Hasan at the Fort Hood army base in Texas. Thirteen were killed and 29 were wounded. MILITARY BASE-GUN FREE
— April 16, 2007: Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Choi, gunned down 56 people. Thirty-two people died. SCHOOL-GUN FREE
— Oct. 2, 2006: An Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster, Penn. five girls were killed by Charles Carl Roberts. SCHOOL-GUN FREE (not to mention a religious sect that is non-violent and an easy target)
— March 21, 2005: Jeffrey Weise opened fire on Red Lake Senior High School, killing nine people on campus. SCHOOL-GUN FREE
— April 20, 1999: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot up Columbine High School in Colorado. They killed 13 people and wounded 21 others. SCHOOL-GUN FREE
Is anyone else seeing a theme here? Eight of nine of the shootings listed above were in a gun-free zone. Which brings up the serious question of: why do we have them when they do nothing more than make people targets? Why not? As a shooter, you’re guaranteed that no one can shoot back at you to stop you.
Next question: Why are people clamoring for more background checks when they obviously don’t stop shootings like this? Looking at the history of the shooter will make it abundantly clear why it’s obvious. First, he was a former member of the military and passed those background checks. Second, he has a concealed carry permit, and made it through those checks. He had just recently gotten clearance to be on the Navy Yard as a civilian contractor. As with enlisted, civilian contractors also have to be background checked. Just LAST WEEK he purchased a shot gun in Virginia and passed the Federal background checks for that purchase. This man was background checked to the nth degree. Even after his arrests for gun issues, and psychiatric issues, he was given the civilian contractor clearance and gun permit. More stringent background checks would have made zero difference.
Next question: Why wasn’t the shooter Tuesday prosecuted for the gun incidents for which he had been arrested? More laws don’t work because most laws aren’t enforced. The shooter Tuesday was arrested twice and not prosecuted. He should have been. That decision not to prosecute shouldn’t penalize the rest of us for doing something we are legally allowed to do – own a firearm.
Last question: Where did his weapons come from, and if he brought them with him, how did he get them on the base? I believe there were reports that he used the shot gun he recently purchased, but also used an automatic weapon. Where did he get the automatic weapon, and how did it get the rifle on base?
Before government starts getting all gun grabby again, why not figure out the real answers to the questions above? Rational people already know them. Gun free zones don’t work. More background checks don’t work. Enforce existing laws before passing new ones. And keep your hands off my guns.
Image: courtesy of http://saucyusa.blogspot.com/2010/06/stuck-on-stupid-oil-over-place.html