In light of the recent murder of U.S. military personnel by Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez there has been a lot of talk about arming military personnel here at home. I’m here to express that while no one should be killed for the lack of the ability to defend him or her self, there is a bit more to it in this case.
A lot of Americans these days have what I call “military worship”. In other words, for those who have this “worship” thing going on, everyone in the military is super-special wonderful people. I find that kind of nutty because I was in the military and some of people I worked with were…assholes. My point being we should not idolize the military.
Once we move away from idolization and return to the simple and proper respect for the lives of all Americans, including military personnel, we’re still left with the question of whether to arm military personnel here at home. Or perhaps a better question is “how” to arm them here at home!
The Founding Fathers expressed deep concern about an armed military here at home.
James Madison – often referred to as “the Father of the Constitution – said, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”
And we have to remember that in the minds of the Founders, the Militias of the states would be at odds with a standing army.
Tench Cox wrote, “The militia, who are in fact an effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops…”
And Jefferson wrote, “The strongest reason to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
When we talk about the physical implementation of tyranny in this country, what is the tool most often mentioned? Martial law, which would be imposed of course by….the military.
So…perhaps as we’re looking for the proper answer to keeping military personnel safe here in America, opening the armories and handing military personnel battle gear is not the best solution.
Who are these military personnel we wish to keep safe? Are they all combat vets? No! Not even close. Some estimates are that in today’s modern U.S. military there are 10 non-combatant support personnel for each actual warrior; the guy on the ground pressing the trigger. Obviously that means the vast majority of the military are not warriors. They have jobs in which they support the small percentage who are.
Now, I’m not taking anything away from their service, but knowing they are not trained or experienced warriors, do you want them handed military weapons and shooting up the neighborhood if they perceive a threat? Perhaps there’s a better option.
One commentator, attempting to sound knowledgeable, stated that it is a bad idea for the average service member to possess a firearm on duty because they are not trained to “neutralize an active shooter”. But here’s the thing; when you are the target of the gunman, you are not in an “active shooter” situation. You’re in a gunfight! Responding law enforcement will consider it an active shooter occurrence, but for the person being shot at, it’s simply a gunfight. All training to stop an active shooter presumes the “responder” is not the shooter’s initial target and is not pinned down, hoping to survive.
Now that we have ascertained being shot at means the victim is in a gunfight, are most military service members trained and qualified to fight it out on the streets of your community with a bad guy, or multiple bad guys? The answer is clearly ‘No’. Do we want untrained military personnel banging away with M4 rifles out in front of your kid’s nursery school? I think to ask the question is to answer it.
Lets take a moment to recap.
While we want military personnel to be able to defend themselves, the following statements are facts.
The vast majority of the military are support personnel, not warriors.
When you are being shot at, and you are armed, you are in a gunfight. You’re going to want to do it to him before he does it to you.
The vast majority of military personnel have no training that would prepare them to respond effectively in a gunfight – most especially with military rifles.
I think you would agree that having the military open its armories to military personnel for their personal defense is not a sound solution. So what is the solution?
Military personnel, both on and off base, deserve the same right of self defense while on duty – the same fighting chance of survival if attacked – that you and I enjoy – unless you live in a communist country like California. But I digress…
So here is what the Pentagon should do. It should, forthwith, acknowledge that being on duty does not divest its personnel of the right to fight back against a deadly attack when stationed within this country. We all understand the rules are different in war, but when their duty assignment is here in this country they should be able to exercise the same right of self-defense as every other citizen, on or off duty.
The military does things in their own way. That is exemplified by the old adage, “There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way.” So…here’s what should happen.
In acknowledgement that service members assigned here at home have a right to fight back effectively against a deadly attack, the Pentagon should immediately implement a Private Firearms Open Carrying program. Here’s how it should work.
The military issues a list of all approved semi-automatic handguns. This list should include every pistol that is generally in use as a duty weapon for patrol officers in law enforcement. An easy way to think of it might be everything from a Glock to a 1911. At the same time the Pentagon issues a list of 2 or 3 holsters, and belts, that are approved to be worn with the common daily duty uniform. These would obviously be retention holsters such as the SERPA or a number of the Safariland products. And none of that old school military “flap over the top” crap. Let’s stay in the 21st century.
Since this will be a voluntary program for service members – just as this choice is voluntary for you and I – the firearm, holster, and belt will be acquired by the service member on his or her own dime. Remember, we’re making sure they have the SAME right to defend themselves as we do, and we pay for our gear!
The Private Firearms Open Carrying program must include proficiency training in the use of handgun, as well as education in the laws concerning use of deadly force. The training should also include exercises such as “shoot – don’t shoot” scenarios because they may be using these firearms in and around the civilian population – in other words, around you and me. Since they’re here, not overseas, their legal standards for shooting must be the same as yours or mine.
And since the military has no frame of reference for domestic firearms training, the training should be conducted by the private sector, just as it is for civilians seeking a concealed carry permit.
When the service member has completed the training with a passing score the military will issue a Private Firearms Open Carrying card authorizing the carrying of the sidearm.
This system avoids the various concerns about military personnel carrying military weapons on U.S. soil and provides a reasonable level of training. And remember, this training is particularly important for combat veterans as the Rules of Engagement are completely different when in our communities than when they were overseas.
In conclusion, this program – as I’ve described it – allows military personnel stationed in this country to exercise the same right of self-defense as you and I. How can we, in good conscience, offer them less?
Copyright Dave Champion 2015