Even a five-shot .38 Special could have stopped the carnage in Reno, September 6th.
On Tuesday morning September, 6th 2011, in Carson City, Nevada a lone gunman walked into an IHOP restaurant with a rifle and opened fire on the patrons. Diners included five National Guard soldiers in uniform. When they realized the threat the soldiers produced their weapons and returned fire preventing the enemy from escaping and harming any more innocents.
If you read the news or watched television on the evening of 9/6/11 you understand that only the first two sentences are true, the last is wishful fiction. Three of the five soldiers were murdered and all were wounded including several other patrons. No one was able to put effective fire on the bad guy and he continued to fire indiscriminately until, fearing capture, he turned his gun on himself.
Less than two years ago, devout Muslim Major Nidal Hasan walked into a U.S. Army pre-deployment center and conducted his own personal jihad again uniformed service members; 12 murdered, 31 wounded. In the aftermath the nation was in shock. Many of my family members and acquaintances were stunned to learn that Hasan was able to walk through the crowded hall unchecked and fire shot after shot. "How could this happen?" a family member asked me. "Why didn't the soldiers shoot back?"
The answer was shocking to those outside of military circles but patently obvious to those of us who have been there. Every soldier in the center was unarmed. Hasan's murder spree was only stopped after two CIVILIAN security officers arrived on scene and shot him.
Warriors or Uniformed Services?
Since September 11, 2001 American citizens who consider themselves patriots and lovers of their country have referred to our men and women in uniform as "warriors". They view troops in uniform as the defenders of our nation and the frontline against an enemy who would destroy this nation and our way of life. This is an enemy who, if given the chance, would subject every man, woman and child in this nation to a 7th Century theological dictatorship. They would have us live as slaves to a barbarian ideology.
The Department of Defense, and by extension the current government of the United States, does not view the men and women who volunteered to serve in our military as warriors. Instead they view them as "uniformed services" much like the postal service, sanitation service or any number of government workers.
When I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1987 I was given a photo ID card that read "Armed Forces of the United States of America". Today a similar card is issued but the words "Armed Forces" have been deliberately removed and replaced by "Uniformed Services".
Ladies and gentlemen, words mean things. This change has only occurred recently. When I went to work teaching small arms and tactics to U.S. troops in 2007 the ID card still used the militaristic verbiage of "Armed". Why the change?
FORBIDDEN to be Armed
Military personnel are FORBIDDEN to possess personally owned firearms and carry them while in uniform. After the Ft. Hood massacre a logical man would think the U.S. Army would encourage or institute the carrying of firearms for personal protection by their personnel. Like so many misguided liberals and politicians in the civilian world they took the exact opposite tact. The Army issued newer and stronger regulations forbidding possession of weapons by their members. Random searches were increased with troops being treated like prisoners during a "shake-down". The Army brass even went so far as to order active duty soldiers living off base to remove guns from their homes, an act of highly questionable legality.
The thought that stiffer regulations and black and white placards can somehow sterilize the troops from harm is infantile and the height of blind naiveté. Even if it were possible to completely secure every U.S. Military base from domestic terrorists, the troops still need to come and go from the base in uniform.
Uniformed service members who do possess arms and a lawful permit to carry a concealed weapon in their state of residence are hindered from doing so by the fact that they are FORBIDDEN to be armed while on base. Like common criminals, their vehicles are randomly searched coming and going from the bases by civilian contract security people. You see, the Department of Defense in order to cut costs has removed the Military Police and Security Forces from the gates and replaced them with lowest-bidder contract firms. They won't even allow the military the privilege of protecting its own.
Disarming the warriors is not a new trend. It has been ongoing since long before I earned the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. While on active duty I was a member of the Marine Security Forces Battalion. We were tasked with overseeing the security of nuclear weapons both on land and sea. As a Corporal of the Guard I was in charge of the Detachment Armory that contained M-60 machine-guns, M-16 and M-14 rifles, M203 grenade launchers and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
During duty hours I wore a loaded sidearm and issued pistols, shotgun, and rifles to my troops. Nonetheless, we were forbidden to possess personally owned firearms and even our personally owned Ka-Bar fighting knives had to be locked in a safe in the 1st Sergeants office. Yes, I was trusted with the security of myriad nuclear weapons but could not be trusted to keep a fighting knife in my locker.
In the year 2011 with an ongoing war against terrorists worldwide you'd think the situation would have changed and that every service member would be trained and armed to fight off attack at any time. Having spent three years (2007 to 2010) teaching small arms and tactics to troops preparing for overseas deployment to combat I can testify to the fact that is at least as bad if not worse.
On day one troops arriving for training at the U.S. Navy's Expeditionary Combat Skills School, a month long academy ostensibly used to prepare them for combat are given a manual proscribing "contraband material". Amongst the contraband items are "personally owned firearms, knives, BB guns, or any replica firearm". Reread it if you like. Troops preparing to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan or some other third world cesspool where the inhabitants are actively plotting their murder cannot be trusted to possess knives or BB guns. Apparently it's just too unsafe to allow the warriors to have knives. They might hurt themselves.
After leaving Active Duty in the early nineteen-nineties I became a police officer. My first job was as a part-time officer for a municipal department. One of the regulations for off-duty officers stated that "only full-time officers are permitted to carry a firearm off-duty". The Police Chief staunchly defended this policy.
When I complained to a veteran colleague he explained it like this. "The chief isn't worried about dead cops. He's worried about liability and his career. If you use a gun off-duty to defend yourself or someone else the Chief has to justify it. There's a lengthy investigation and possibly a lawsuit from the family of the dirtbag you shot. On the other hand, if you get killed your insurance pays off your widow. The citizens will all weep for the murdered officer and the Chief will get whatever he wants in the next budget. No city council would dare quibble over a budget with a Chief who just lost an officer."
At the time my mentor's words were like cold water in my face. That's awfully cynical and perhaps farfetched I thought initially. As I have gained experience I see that his words were prophetic.
On June 6, 2009 a recent convert to Islam waged a personal jihad in Little Rock, Arkansas. A man who had just changed his name to Muhammad drove to an U.S. Army recruiting center and opened fire on two soldiers standing outside, one was killed and one wounded. He was arrested and has since been sentence to life in jail with all the privilege that come with it. Both soldiers were in uniform and unarmed.
Are the generals and admirals of today's U.S. Military more worried about their careers than the lives of their troops? Knowing that servicemen in uniform are direct targets of attack why do they continue to cling to their misguided and deadly policy of disarming the troops? How many more of our nation's warriors must be murdered while defenseless so that the politicians in uniform and their bureaucrat bosses at the Department of Defense can minimize their own liability?
I wish I could say that this was a case of being a slow learner. That, however, would be optimistic. They haven't learned at all. Every day in every corner of our nation U.S. service men and women go about their lives as easy targets. To a domestic terrorist it is simply a risk versus benefit question. A group of soldiers or sailors enjoying a meal in a restaurant are an easy target. In the demented mind of a terrorist the benefit of murdering the living symbols of the United States far outweighs the risk that those troops might fight back effectively.
By edict the troops are completely unarmed. Those few warriors who flaunt regulation and go armed risk arrest and dishonorable discharge by the country they took an oath and swore to protect. At least as these words are written, when a domestic terrorist attacks a uniformed service member, the troops don't stand a chance.
--- Paul Markel
BIO: Paul G. Markel became a United States Marine in 1987. He has spent his entire adult life in the service of this nation during times of war and peace as a Marine, Police Officer, and Small Arms and Tactics instructor.
Mr. Markel now hosts "Student of the Gun", a weekly television program. Follow the show at www.studentofthegun.com or daily on www.twitter.com/studentofthegun