Support for allowing military personnel to carry firearms for self-protection following the terrorist attack upon military personnel in Chattanooga last week has been strongly declared by several presidential candidates, is building in Congress, and has already taken shape for National Guardsmen in several states. However, the same can’t be said for the usual and not-so-usual suspects.
In his off-the-cuff remarks about the Chattanooga attack, President Obama said only that he would consider “what further precautions we can take in the future.”
We have come to expect such as this from Obama. However, we expect better from the Army Chief of Staff, even one that Obama hand-picked for the job. On Friday, July 17, USNews.com reported that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno appeared to oppose allowing military personnel to be armed, saying “we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves,” because of the possibility of “accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries.” In making such a statement, Odierno not only expresses a demoralizing lack of confidence in the soldiers he commands, he also inspires a lack of soldiers’ confidence in his ability to lead, because accidental discharges are reduced by training, and training is something for which he, as Chief of Staff, is ultimately responsible.
Expressing an even greater lack of faith in our troops—though considering the source, no one in uniform should consider it worthy of the term “insult”—is the editorial arm of Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. On Monday, Bloomberg’s TheTrace.org said that advocating that military personnel carry guns for protection is nothing more than a “political sound bite” that “does not hold up well under fact-checking.”
Bloomberg and his hirelings are hardly in a position to point fingers about “political sound bites” that don’t hold up to “fact-checking.” Their one-liners on background checks and other gun control issues have been taken to task by fact-checkers from the Washington Post (April 2, 2013), the Tampa Bay Tribune (July 25, 2012, Jan. 30, 2013, June 13, 2014,) the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Aug. 27, 2013, Sept. 6, 2013, April 28, 2015), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Sept. 18, 2013, Dec. 19, 2014, May 12, 2015), and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Feb. 3, 2013).
On to the substance of TheTrace’s claims, the website says, “Most service members . . . are not in direct combat roles, but instead are technical workers whose specialties support those ‘tip of the spear’ troops. These include navigators, supply clerks, water purification specialists, and camera crews.” This only demonstrates the anti-gunners’ profound ignorance of military operations during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Throughout those conflicts, combat support, combat service support and other troops not in infantry roles participated in countless missions, often alongside their infantry counterparts, took fire, and returned it.
Furthermore, many Americans in the active-duty and reserve armed forces have their own firearms, attend training courses, practice extensively, and participate in defensive skills-based marksmanship competitions. Arguably, military personnel today are more skilled with small arms than at any time in U.S. history.
TheTrace says “military security experts know better,” so to test that theory we asked three former U.S. Army Special Forces (Delta) soldiers, all combat veterans with awards for valor, who are the founders and operators of some of the best defensive firearm training schools in the country, what they think about allowing military personnel to be armed.
Sergeant Major Kyle Lamb, of Viking Tactics, told us “Americans always have the right to protect themselves, and that is no less true in this day and age, when terrorists are attacking us on American soil. More Americans carrying firearms has helped reduced crime, and allowing those who serve in uniform to carry as well, will increase safety for us all.”
Master Sergeant Larry Vickers, of Vickers Tactical, told us, “Military personnel being armed and carrying is not only the right thing to do it’s the sensible thing to do. Military personnel have taken an oath to uphold and defend our way of life, and show unmatched determination and courage when confronted with danger. I find it ridiculous for anyone to think otherwise.”
Master Sergeant Paul R. Howe, of Combat Shooting and Tactics, told us, “There are many things that can be done to increase the safety of military personnel in off-base locations, starting with off-duty police officers armed with AR-15s while new policies are adopted for military personnel, to be followed with allowing military personnel who obtain state concealed carry permits and training to carry handguns.”
We think SGM Lamb, MSG Vickers and MSG Howe agree, with millions of other Americans, that people have a fundamental right to self-defense, and that they do not lose that right when they put on the uniforms of our armed forces.
The reality is that attacks upon our military personnel, like the one in Chattanooga, have not been random events. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have been targeted because of the uniforms they wear and the country they represent. The last thing America needs to hear on this subject is two-bit sniping from the anti-gun peanut gallery and their witting and unwitting allies in positions of leadership.
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