Friday, April 4, 2014

JUST THINKING OUT LOUD

Fort Hood, Texas, had two incidents within the past few years of someone  opening fire on bystanders. The incidents have resulted in multiple deaths and injuries as unarmed, defenseless people have been gunned down. When the first of these incidents (the shooting by Major Nidal Malik Hassan in 2009) occurred, the Defense Department and the FBI commissioned investigations, and Congress held hearings. It seems our government was clueless as to how to prevent such incidents. The fact that they continue to be clueless was underscored by the 2014 shooting involving a soldier named Ivan Lopez.  More investigations are planned to figure out how to prevent and deal with such incidents.

It seems that the first round of investigations after the Nidal shooting resulted in a marvelous plan for dealing with such incidents, and it was put into action during this recent shooting: Soldiers of the world's most powerful army "sheltered in place" while units of the Bell County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety raced to the rescue.  
I have what I think is a better idea than sheltering in place awaiting the arrival of  local law enforcement to handle the situation. My idea is simplicity itself, and I offer it in lieu of another round of expensive investigations--When somebody starts shooting people, shoot back. This will not only deal with the situation quickly and efficiently, it will save lives and deter future such incidents. Of course, in order to shoot back, you must be armed. Can we trust our soldiers to actually carry firearms? I sincerely hope so. We trust police officers to go about habitually armed, why not our military personnel on the grounds of "forts"?

Apparently they do allow military police to go about armed, because both the 2009 and the 2014 shooting sprees were stopped by the response of armed military police officers. In the first incident Sgt. Kimberly D. Munley  an armed member of Fort Hood's civilian police force shot Nidal,[1]  and in the second Lopez shot himself when confronted by an armed MP. But as the saying goes, when seconds matter, the police are just minutes away. I strongly suspect that if more of our soldiers had been armed, fewer of them would have died. Maybe the multiple investigations that will follow this incident can figure that out.

People intent on committing mass murder want to be able to kill as many people as possible before they are stopped. In order to accomplish this, they normally go to places where people are not armed. Once in a blue moon someone emulates Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the first Terminator movie and opens fire in a police station, but he doesn't live long enough to do much damage. In 2011 a man opened fire in a New Jersey police station, injuring three officers before he was killed himself. That certainly beats the 13 dead and 30 injured in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting and even the 4 dead and 16 injured of the 2014 Fort Hood shooting.
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[1] We're not stretching a point too far when we apply the term military police to civilian officer working on a military base.