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Fort Hood: Another gun-free zone shooting

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Some important facts have emerged in the hours following Wednesday’s Fort Hood shooting, including one that is likely to be discussed with greater emphasis in the days ahead, and it got some attention from KVIs John Carlson during the morning drive time: Fort Hood – a military base – is essentially a “gun-free” zone, so nobody could act in self-defense.

After last night’s press conference, during which Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley revealed that the gunman, identified this morning by various news reports as Ivan Lopez, was armed with a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol. This was a personal firearm, reportedly legally purchased recently but it was not registered on base, a direct violation of military regulations.

UPDATE: CBS News is reporting that Lopez purchased his pistol, now identified as a Smith & Wesson M&P, at the same Killeen, Tex., gun shop where Major Nidal Hasan purchased his guns used in the 2009 Fort Hood attack, Guns Galore. If that is the case, Lopez would have had to pass a federal background check. Hasan also passed background checks when purchasing his guns.

Fox News, however, has reported only that the store would not confirm the sale to Lopez. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a store employee told them that they have been advised to redirect all inquiries to the FBI.

If the CBS report is correct and Fox confirms with their own sources, this new information can be used by gun rights advocates to refute contentions by gun prohibition lobbyists that background checks will somehow prevent mass shootings. This also signals that the gun shop in question followed the law, requiring the proper paperwork and transaction process, and kept a record of the sale.

Meanwhile, Carlson, whose late father was a police officer, picked up right away on another important point. When the gunman was confronted by an armed military police officer who challenged him with her own sidearm, he stopped, raised his arms, then put the pistol to his own head and pressed the trigger.

The question was raised during last night’s press briefing about soldiers not having firearms on post. Gen. Milley confirmed that soldiers are not allowed to carry firearms on post, and that security is provided by military police. Essentially, military bases are “gun-free zones.”

But Carlson’s point was that – almost to echo the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre – the crisis stopped when “a bad guy with a gun was confronted by a good guy with a gun.” Fox News’ early morning “Fox and Friends” discussed this issue as well, with guests noting that soldiers are trained with firearms, so it seems confusing that soldiers are disarmed by policy on base.

Lastly, the alleged gunman carried a firearm onto a military base in direct violation of regulations, which sends a message to proponents of “gun free” zones. People bent on mayhem do not obey laws or signs.

Republican Congressman Mike McCaul last night said members of the military should be able to carry firearms on base.

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