My most recent C-J column -- a fitting post on Memorial Day. Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal:
Last weekend’s National Rifle Association’s meeting in Louisville highlighted the most absurd example of an assault on gun rights: the ban on soldiers carrying guns on base.
Lt. Col. Oliver North (Ret.) spoke in detail about the topic at a firearms law seminar. His remarks echoed the sentiments of the Republican Party of Kentucky state convention last month.
RPK delegates unanimously passed a resolution that called for military personnel to be given the right to carry firearms, in light of the shootings in recent years at recruitment centers and bases in America. (Currently, military police may carry guns on base, but other soldiers generally may not.)
The only discussion I heard about the issue on the Resolutions Committee was surprise that service men and women do not already have that right. Kentucky’s resolution will advance to the Republican National Convention for consideration of inclusion in the party’s national platform.
Likewise, at the NRA seminar, people were perplexed that soldiers cannot carry a gun on military installations stateside; it makes our soldiers soft targets.
Safety cannot be a serious counterargument: Soldiers are professionally trained to handle firearms competently, and effectively. Their training is much more extensive than that required of a civilian to get a concealed carry license.
Not allowing soldiers to carry guns on American military installations makes about as much sense as prohibiting carpenters from carrying hammers on construction sites.
North approached the issue from his experience as a Marine officer charged with keeping his soldiers safe — wherever the location. We can no longer assume that military installations on U.S. soil are safe.
The issue has become more urgent as radical Islamists increasingly focus on American soldiers and their families here at home.
The FBI in March revealed that it has intelligence that ISIS is recruiting terrorists to attack American military — and/or their families — on U.S. soil, even at their homes. Service members and veterans were therefore urged to review their social media presence with that threat in mind. For 100 military families, the safety concern is not hypothetical: a group claiming ISIS affiliation released their names and addresses to the world via the internet.
The disclosure of the soldiers’ personal information must be viewed in the context of the attacks on U.S. military installations in America since 9/11.
The worst shooting at a U.S. military base on U S. soil occurred in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas. The Obama administration persisted for some time in mischaracterizing the Fort Hood shooter as “workplace violence,” even though Major Nidal Hassan yelled “Allahu Akbar” during his killing spree. This act of terrorism resulted in 13 deaths and 30 injuries.
Hassan plainly did not obey the base’s gun-free zone policy. Tragically, his victims did.
Military bases are not the only place where our service men and women might benefit from a firearm. Last July, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez attacked two military installations in Chattanooga, Tenn. First, he conducted a drive-by shooting at a recruiting center. Then he went to a U.S. Navy Reserve center and resumed firing until a police officer killed him. Four marines died on the spot, Three people were injured, including a sailor who died the next day. The FBI eventually attributed the shootings to terrorist propaganda.
The door to the military facility in Tennessee proclaimed it a gun-free zone. It’s bad enough that we have left our men and women in uniform as sitting ducks. But to advertise that fact to those who would do them harm is absurd. “Gun-free zone” on the door of a military installation is code-speak for a left-wing mindset that (1) hates guns and (2) exalts moral relativism posing as tolerance.
The more honest sign would read something along the lines of: “Terrorists welcome. We’ve made your work easy by disarming your targets!”
North called for NRA lawyers, between now and the inauguration, to draft a policy to give American military personnel a concealed carry right for when they are back stateside. He acknowledged that the issue is complex, given the patchwork of state, local and federal regulations that apply to firearms. It is entirely appropriate for the federal government to preempt those state and local regulations that chip away at the second amendment.
As North put it, our service men and women have our backs; we should have theirs when they come home. Our military bravely put themselves in harm’s way to serve and protect our country and our constitutional rights. They are now terrorist targets as a result of that service. They protect us; let them protect themselves upon their return.
Bridget Bush is a Louisville attorney and founder of Elephants in the Bluegrass blog. Her column appears every third Wednesday in the Courier-Journal.