While many questions about the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, by Major Nidal Hasan remain unanswered, there is one question for which there is a clear and unequivocal answer: Why didn't the soldiers return fire?
Fort Hood is the largest active duty post in the world, covering more than 340 acres outside Killeen, Texas, quartering more than 50,000 troops, and an additional 27,000 family members and civilian support staff. It is the final check point for embarkation to Iran and Afghanistan for the 1st Cavalry Division. Each soldier has had a final medical clearance. Each has been carefully and rigorously trained in the strategies and tactics of modern warfare.
And so, why, in the face of withering determined fire, did no one use their weapon to return fire and put down the attacker? Why did it take 10 minutes before a civilian police officer was able to neutralize this individual?
The answer: Because they couldn't. They were unarmed.
Fort Hood is, in fact, a "gun free" zone, proclaimed and enforced by regulations adopted in one of the very first acts signed into law by President Clinton in March, 1993.
Those military regulations are very specific: Army Regulation 190-14 "prohibits the carrying of non-Government owned weapons or ammunition" by RA (Regular Army) personnel.
And so, just like in the Virginia Tech and Columbine High School attacks, the perpetrator took advantage of the "gun free" zone, knowing that receiving return fire wasn't likely to occur before he had inflicted heavy casualties upon his victims.
All of this stems from the flawed (but oft-repeated) assumption that "guns are evil", that "guns kill people", and therefore (it follows that) all guns must be confiscated and removed from society — even from those trained to defend our country!
For instance, here comes Chicago Mayor Daly, responding to the query about whether he thought Islam had anything to do with the Fort Hood massacre:
"Every day in society people are getting killed, unfortunately. America loves guns, we love guns to a point that we see the devastation on a daily basis."
And this, from Paul Helmke of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
"America has seen an epidemic of horrific gun violence at churches and synagogues, workplaces, health clubs, high schools, universities, policy stations and now Army bases. This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places. Enough is enough!"
Let's look at some "inconvenient" facts overlooked or ignored by such people and organizations.
Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., from the University of Maryland, and William M. Landes, from the University of Chicago Law School, in their extensive and highly regarded analysis of the presence or absence of firearms during the commission of "multiple victim public shootings", said:
"Our results find the only policy factor to have a consistently significant influence on multiple victim public shootings is the passage of concealed handgun laws...We show why [these] laws reduce the number of shootings and have an even greater effect on their severity." [Emphasis added.]
None of this is "new" news, of course. The reader is free to access Gun Facts at www.gunfacts.info for a quick reference guide on gun control issues. Some of the myths exposed (with backup source material) include:
• Concealed carry laws increase crime. (No.)
• People with concealed weapons permits will commit crimes. (No.)
• People do not need concealable weapons. (Yes, they do.)
• Police are against concealed carrying by citizens. (No, they aren't.)
Common sense about the matter rarely makes it into the public discussion of the Fort Hood attack, with this exception: On CNN on Monday night (November 9th), anchor John Roberts asked Mrs. Mandy Foster, wife of one of those wounded in the attack, how she felt about her husband being "scheduled for deployment in January" to Afghanistan. Mrs. Foster responded:
"At least he's safe there and he can fire back, right?"
On Tuesday, November 20th, Press Secretary Gibbs told reporters that President Obama "asked every agency involved...to investigate why this happened, how this happened and to ensure that they can tell him that it won't happen again."
Until laws against carrying weapons are repealed, and freedom to "bear arms" restored, more such attacks are not only possible, but remain likely "to happen again".
It's just common sense.
Photo: AP Images