Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chattanooga and Citizens Guarding the Military

Five US servicemen, four Marines and a sailor were killed in Chattanooga, TN, along with a police officer and civilian injured, on July 16. The murderer can only be described as a lone-wolf jihadist. Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez was a Muslim of Middle Eastern origin. He had a disturbing blog that spoke of Islam and our world being corrupted from his Islamic standards. His father was on a terrorist watch list for some time and his son may have traveled to Jordan to be further radicalized. Islam is a religion that requires faithful Muslims to wage war, jihad, on non-Muslims, so the murderer was only following the dictates of his religion when he launched his attack (though I must point out most Muslims do not follow these particular tenets of Islam). Despite the denials of the White House, which tried to brand this as domestic terror, another mentally ill mass shooting—anything but Islamic terror—this was the second Islamic terror attack we’ve had this year.

By federal law, military personnel are disarmed on base, except for military police and designated security personnel. Any form of carry, even where otherwise legal, is prohibited by federal law in any federal facility, such as a recruiting station. Even though a soldier might have a concealed carry permit, he is prohibited from carrying that firearm on base or while in uniform. In Chattanooga, a Navy officer, carrying a handgun against regulations, shot back to defend his and others’ lives. A slain Marine was rumored to have his own pistol.

Military recruiting stations are nothing more than storefront offices. They are unlike even most police stations which are equipped with bulletproof glass and a carbine or shotgun mounted on the wall. It easy to see how the murderer in Tennessee could shoot straight through the front doors. Further away, the shooter crashed the gate at the reserve center and began shooting service members who were outside there. Some reserve centers and most National Guard armories usually have some form of small arms stored on base, but usually kept locked, unloaded in the armory. Sentries guarding military facilities are long-gone, except on the most sensitive of posts. Your average military facility, if guarded at all, is protected by civilian Department of Defense (DoD) security guards and civilian police. Even knowing a terrorist attack was possible, the DoD didn’t even take the basic steps of ensuring at least one person was armed and able to respond.

When ISIS issued a threat to kill military members, the DoD took no substantive action, only telling service members and their families to be alert and consider traveling to their bases in civilian clothing or adjust their Facebooks. In 2014, a Canadian sentry, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, armed with an unloaded rifle, was killed by a Canadian Muslim convert who then went on a rampage inside the halls of Parliament. Luckily, the ostensibly ceremonial Sergeant-at-Arms of Canada Kevin Vickers (a former police officer) was armed shot the murderer as politicians cowered. In Great Britain, an off-duty soldier was beheaded in the street by two Muslim men, who then ranted to passers-by on video about their supposed mission from Allah.

The Commander-in-Chief and the DoD have absolutely insulted our military and have shown how feckless we have grown as a nation. President Obama belatedly ordered flags lowered to half-staff five days after the shootings, despite having the White House turn rainbow colors the night the gay marriage decision was released by the Supreme Court. Americans instinctively lowered their own flags, not waiting for the customary order from the White House. Only after public pressure mounted did the president finally do the right thing. Americans event went as far as arming themselves to guard recruiting centers against further attacks. This is especially evident in the open carry states, such as Nevada, which allow the open carry of pistols and long guns.

Many of these citizens were former veterans and had no problem camping out or standing a watch in front of the shopping malls where the centers were. The Army responded to this by saying to treat the good Samaritan citizens as a threat and to call the police on them. The Marine Corps did the same thing. Considering how a potential attacker might blend in with the citizens, it would be prudent to give some sort of scrutiny to who is outside, along with calling the police for anyone who is behaving badly or unsafely. Yet the intent is clear; the military does not want armed citizens anywhere near its facilities.

Having civilians guarding service men admittedly looks bad for our nation and projects the image that we are defenseless in our heartland—and that is certainly true to an extent. The interior of America is not prepared for a terror attack, let alone responding to a high-profile mass shooting. Thankfully, to date most of the high-profile shooters committed suicide rather than face police or an armed citizen. God help us if a determined and well armed group of jihadis decide to start shooting. While we are a nation of gun owners, too few responsible and capable people carry. Knowing that we are indeed a rather weak target without the governmental fortitude to harden ourselves up, the DoD is obviously embarrassed at having armed citizens outside.

Some Realistic Concerns 

On one hand, the citizens outside the recruiting stations are a rag-tag bunch. Many of them are carrying only pistols. Others have rifles and shotguns, but many are of the hunting variety and not suited to self-defense or combat. One man even had a possibly illegal firearm at the center (an AR-15 ‘pistol’ with a forward vertical grip would be an ‘Any Other Weapon’ requiring registration and approval from the ATF). To top it off, this man didn’t even have sights on his weapon to aim it properly if needed. This incident was pointed out by the noted firearm historian Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons, a very intelligent, patient, and articulate man, starting a furor over his comments (in response to the above linked photo). Unfortunately, his correct insight was misinterpreted as criticism.

From Forgotten Weapons on Twitter, tweet since removed.

These guards are largely symbolic, showing their support for the troops, rather than being meaningful defense. While many are fully prepared and willing to engage another shooter, just as many are woefully unprepared for combat, let alone a self-defense shooting. While the symbolism and the deterrent effect is certainly appreciated by servicemen and Americans, an elderly man sitting relaxed in a folding chair with his fowling shotgun lying against the wall is an easy target. A terrorist would probably snipe the guard from a distance as he sat, unaware of any threat. Photos of the guards show that few are prepared for combat. Almost none have body armor on or are standing behind cover, which might stop a sniper’s bullet. Many are unprepared, inexperienced, and are simply showing up as a sign of moral support. In one incident, a man negligently discharged his firearm, his second offense, and was immediately disarmed by those around him, then arrested. He was clearly an exception and an exceptionally stupid man, while those gun owners around him proved the rule that most gun owners are responsible.

It is very important to recognize that this is an exercise in deterrence. Just like open carry makes a criminal think twice about his target, having armed citizens willing to defend their soldiers will make terrorists think harder. A poorly executed and planned attack, like that of Chattanooga, would likely meet an immediately disastrous fate if attempted again. The symbolism of it all is the important message. We as individuals stand by our service men, even when our White House repudiates them and commanders render warriors impotent. These guards are a warning that Americans are armed, we will shoot back, and we will not tolerate and attack upon our military.

Will the Governments and Brass Respond Properly?

Sadly, these incidents will fade into memory and the citizen guards will return to their lives in time. Soldiers will probably still be disarmed by law without even taking the simple steps of arming select officers and NCOs, allowing concealed carry in certain situations, or even the placing of armed sentries. None of this would amount to what those who fear a military coup are concerned about. Placing dozens and dozens of armed troops on the street, one of the reasons a standing army was so hated by the founding fathers, would certainly arouse suspicion. Several governors have allowed the arming of National Guard troops under their command, something that Nevada Governor Sandoval couldn’t be bothered with.

As a demonstration of our resolve and dedication, Americans guarding these centers have been successful in their mission. In the article referenced above, the military is now discussing was to arm some troops, though the Obama administration’s ability to follow through on this is seriously in doubt. These citizen guards have figuratively bloodied the president’s nose and that of the DoD by showing how ineffective to protect the troops and how distrustful of armed citizens and soldiers they are. The upper echelon’s military have abrogated their duty to protect their troops, leaving it up to citizens who care. This embarrassed them which is why they are retaliating against the guards.


This is what America needs after a shooting and in a crisis: citizens who are involved and willing to stand up in defense of what is right and in defense of those who defend us abroad. Trampling on these guardians and leaving our military to be a bunch of sitting ducks is a travesty to our veterans and active service members. Even if the guards are at most symbolism, it's symbolism that we need. America is composed of individuals who are willing to bear arms for good and we do not wait for our government to make decisions or tell us what to do.

The government’s response to this whole incident is totally disgusting, from the disarming of troops in the private capacity to the distancing themselves from calling this terrorism. Harassing citizens doing a good deed is totally uncalled for and indicative of a government which does not trust its citizens. This is a PR nightmare and an insult to the military and American public. When will this government’s assault on the Second Amendment end? Does the Department of Defense have no courtesy or are they ignorant of decency and tact?

Download the Nevada Carry Kindle Edition ebook. Free if you have Kindle Unlimited, otherwise just 99 cents!

No comments:

Post a Comment