US Army Major Nidal Malik Hassan.
(AP Photo/Uniformed Services University
of the Health Sciences, file)
- Fort Hood tightens restrictions on guns--the wrong response, too late?
Fort Hood tightens restrictions on guns--what would stop "the next Hassan"? (Part IV)
Need to catch up? Start with Part I, Fort Hood tightens restrictions on guns--the wrong response, too late?
Readers who are also veterans have been pointing out that the "new" Fort Hood regulations are not new, but are common on US military installations. However, a soldier currently stationed at Fort Hood tells the Chicago Gun Rights Examiner that he has been required to register his privately-owned firearms only since the November attack--and that even after the attack, he had been permitted to keep his firearms in his on-base housing until the new regulations took effect near the end of 2009.
In the last three installments of the Chicago Gun Rights Examiner, we've examined new, more onerous restrictions on military personnel who own "privately-owned firearms" while serving at Fort Hood in Texas. Today, in the final installment of the series, it's time to answer the most relevant question that the criticisms of Fort Hood's restrictive new firearm policies leave unanswered:
So registration and regulations won't work? Fine--what measures would stop "the next Hassan"?
As many reader comments seem to suggest, targeting specific weapons a terrorist might use is guaranteed to fail over time. Major Hassan's terrorist attack was not made possible by his ability to purchase the pistol he used; he took advantage of an opportunity to use that weapon, but if it had been unavailable, or if he had preferred something more effective, the pistol would never have been involved. The element that would have remained in any case is Major Hassan himself--and the only effective measures would have dealt with Major Hassan and his victims. This column has already repeated calls for American troops to be armed at all times and trained with that expectation in mind. There is no need to repeat that message in detail again, but the ridiculousness of having thousands of trained military personnel running around unarmed as our nation prepares to enter its ninth year of warfare against an asymmetrical enemy speaks for itself.
There's nothing novel about suggesting that military officers must be made to feel that they aren't going to face career-ending retaliation if they take steps to report and/or remove military personnel who express treasonous sentiments or indicate that they cannot or will not follow lawful orders. If you the reader think of this as belaboring the obvious, you are not alone. Unfortunately, "the obvious" solution is not necessarily the easy solution; anyone who tries to create a culture that demands loyalty and willingness to follow orders in the U.S. military will certainly face charges of fascism, McCarthyism, racism, and any other -ism that seems likely to damage a reputation. Although there's still time for more substantial changes to be made, Fort Hood's new regulations are worrisome signs that the powers that be think they can avoid doing the hard work of getting rid of terrorists in their own midst if only they make a convincing show of cracking down on the weapon the last terrorist used . . . but even if the next terrorist grants us the courtesy of doing only what he saw on TV the last time, it's hard to see how that could be enough.