It's long past time to end "gun free" policies on U.S. military bases

by Gerard Valentino

Since 9/11, the American people rediscovered the value of the United States military and were reminded of the sacrifices made by military families. The fact that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines accept the risk of death willingly is a testament to the American spirit. Their willingness to die in the name of liberty is also a living reminder of the same risk our Founding Fathers accepted when they decided to break from England.

The Founding Fathers understood that living free required constant vigilance and often meant people had to die in defense of the American experiment. Such a viewpoint made the 2nd Amendment an irreplaceable part of America's founding principles.

Sadly, we live in a society that is willing to throw away 2nd Amendment rights based on the government’s promise of security.

Ironically, even the citizens we send off to war are disarmed when they return from overseas duty. A policy that army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan exploited when he killed 13 soldiers during a terrorist attack at Ft. Hood, Texas. Nidal knew his intended victims were unarmed, and used that fact to assure a high death toll.

In the aftermath of Hasan's terrorist attack, the American people were outraged and demanded that military leaders take action to protect our military service members. To that end, the military leaders at Ft. Hood, and at other military installations, tried to further restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of active duty soldiers.

In essence, our military leadership's plan to keep our soldiers safe was to expand the disarmament policy and create more places that terrorists can attack without fear of resistance by an armed victim. They ignored the fact that Hasan’s chain of command failed to act on his overt anti-American ideology, and that 13 soldiers died because of the Army’s anti-gun policies.

Instead, like so many elected officials in America today, the Army blamed the gun for the murderous actions of a coward.

By expanding disarmament policies and leaving our soldiers at the whim of armed thugs, the Army was setting the stage for another successful terrorist attack – and that attack nearly happened.

According to published reports, the arrest of Naser Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, thwarted another terrorist attack on Ft. Hood. Had Adbo been successful in launching his attack, he was likely to find Ft. Hood soldiers unarmed and unable to defend their own life.

While fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, we trust our soldiers with rocket launchers, tanks, explosives and their personal side arms. Yet, while stateside, they are left without a means for self-defense despite the fact that they are a prime target for terrorists. Historically, that wasn’t the case and our soldiers were usually armed at all times.

In the past, the lawless nature of the American frontier, or the unpredictable nature of fighting a war overseas required soldiers to always have a firearm within reach. Today, it is the threat of terrorist attack that should force military leaders to see the value of letting soldiers carry firearms for self- defense.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, our enemies lose whenever they face the American war-fighting machine in a pitched battle. Our military is so successful it forces insurgents and terrorists to use improvised explosive devices, booby traps and non-traditional warfare to inflict casualties on American military personnel.

It didn't take long for the terrorists to learn how to attack Americans without risking their own hide.

The situation in Iraq and Afghanistan proved that terrorists learn quickly, and the successful attack plan used by Nidal Hasan gave them an easy to follow blueprint.

Hasan's attack was also a learning experience for America's military leadership. The problem is they fell prey to the same misguided anti-gun policies that led to sky-high murder rates in cities like Chicago and Washington D.C.

Based on the most recent reports, only a tip from an alert gun store clerk kept Abdo's horrifying plan from succeeding. So, instead of reporting about another deadly attack at a U.S. military base, the mainstream media is reporting that the attack failed.

But, even in failure, the terrorist element is learning how to succeed in the future.

The people that risk their lives to protect the American way of life shouldn't be forced to count on good luck, and a well timed tip from a gun shop clerk to keep them safe while serving at home. As a people, we owe them that, and so much more.

When Nidal Hasan killed 13 Americans at one of the largest military bases in the United States, it should have served as a wake-up call. Instead, the military establishment based the safety of American soldiers on the false hope of gun free zones.

A policy that has failed to keep the American people safe, and that will fail to keep our soldiers safe.

Gerard Valentino, a former military intelligence analyst, is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and the author of "The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative," available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store.

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