Much Worse Than Mere Flashbacks: Not A Good Day at Ft. Hood or Kent State

While preparing an early analysis of this afternoon’s shootings at Ft. Hood, frantically gathering as many details as I could from various sources, the news broke that an active shooter is being reported at Kent State University in Ohio, and that the entire campus is under lockdown as I type.

What’s coming next?  Someone on a comment thread suggested that the authorities at Virginia Tech immediately go to high alert and put the place on lockdown.

Most reading this, I believe, are of a certain generation for whom the words “Kent State” evokes an immediate, visceral tension, and memories of National Guard troops having opened fire on Vietnam War-protesting students in May of 1970, resulting in 4 dead.

As for today’s shooting rampage at Ft. Hood, which has also resulted in at least 4 deaths (with 14 people shot in all) so far, words are not easy to find to express the shock, terror, and frustration of a situation for which the trauma of the 2009 massacre there is still so comparatively fresh.

We are being told that the shooter at Ft. Hood today, identified as 34(or 36, depending on the news source)-year-old motor pool soldier Ivan Lopez, has no connection to the story from just within the last few days about another army recruit (a guy named “Booker” aka Mohammed Abdullah Hasan) who had threatened to do exactly what Lopez did today.

We really don’t know much yet about Lopez, although there is a lot of speculation about his shooting rampage being somehow related to an argument/confrontation with another soldier or other soldiers.  However, given that the federal authorities were reported so early on as categorically saying there is no connection to jihad, or to the “Mohammed Abdullah Hasan” recruit, such an announcement is rather spurious.  It smells as if the feds are merely trying to pre-emptively deflect criticism and speculation that they may have blown it in investigating/stopping another jihad massacre (just as they blew it in the case of the Boston Marathon bombers), while they scramble to do damage control, cover their butts, and investigate further.

I’ve recently been contemplating physical security measures and realities more deeply than ever, and discussing them with other professionals in the field a bit more than usual.  The bottom line is that there simply is no such thing as 100% perfect security, and that for every hyper-vigilant, armed security force protecting a hardened, high-value target with every stringent checkpoint and surveillance gizmo, there are a thousand soft-target places that are open to the public, where spending a gazillion dollars on security just doesn’t make sense in the slightest, nor does turning every public–or private, for that matter–area into a fortress even come close to being an acceptable idea.  Therefore, anyone who is for some twisted reason determined to terrorize and murder as many people as they can, will find a way to do it, especially in a relatively open and free society.

The discussions of how a military base such as Ft. Hood, especially in light of the horrific 2009 massacre, could be the scene of another attack almost identical in nature, have commenced.  Uppermost in the minds of many is the Clinton-era disarming of troops on military bases; expect the debate to feature a tsunami of calls for this policy to be rescinded.  Count my voice among them.

Donald Joy

About the author, Donald Joy: Following his service in the United State Air Force, Donald Joy earned a bachelor of science in business administration from SUNY while serving in the army national guard. As a special deputy U.S. marshal, Don was on the protection detail for Attorney General John Ashcroft following the attacks of 9/11. He lives in the D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia with his wife and son. View all articles by Donald Joy

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