Military Law Journal Publishes Argument for Arming More Soldiers on Military Installations

'Military personnel are vulnerable to active shooters primarily because of overly restrictive military firearms policies'

Pentagon

Aerial view of the United States military headquarters, the Pentagon / Reuters

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The Military Law Review published an article outlining the case for arming more American military personnel while they’re on military bases and installations.

The article was written by Maj. Anthony M. Osborne, a brigade judge advocate for the 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Osborne argues that current military policy to disarm soldiers is ineffective and leaves installations vulnerable to shootings. “If you work in a military office, ask yourself this question: If a gunman came into your work area and began shooting people, how long would it take for a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) to arrive and stop them?” Osborne asked. “The answer for most servicemembers is far too long.”

“If you work in a military office, ask yourself this question: If a gunman came into your work area and began shooting people, how long would it take for a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) to arrive and stop them?” Osborne asked. “The answer for most servicemembers is far too long.”

He goes on to argue that the high death toll from attacks on military installations is proof that the military’s current policy isn’t working. “Current DoD firearms policies are ineffective in protecting servicemembers from active shooter attacks because they prohibit nearly all servicemembers on military installations from the ability to carry firearms for unit or self–defense,” he said. “The fact that active shooters on military installations have killed or wounded ninety–two DoD and civilian personnel since 2009 is strong evidence supporting this conclusion”

“Current DoD firearms policies are ineffective in protecting servicemembers from active shooter attacks because they prohibit nearly all servicemembers on military installations from the ability to carry firearms for unit or self defense,” he said. “The fact that active shooters on military installations have killed or wounded ninety–two DoD and civilian personnel since 2009 is strong evidence supporting this conclusion.”

The 58-page article recounts in detail the shootings at Fort Hood, the Washington Navy Yard, and a recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Osborne asserts that the military’s efforts to limit the number of firearms being carried on base effectively made military installations gun-free zones and soft targets for attackers and terrorists.

He points to an account detailing one survivor’s harrowing experience during the 2014 shooting at Fort Hood to show the risk service members can face during attacks.

“When the first shots rang out, my hand reached to my belt for something that wasn’t there [a gun],” Ivan Lopez, a survivor of the 2014 attack on Fort Hood, said. “Something that could have put a stop to the bloodshed, could have made it merely an ugly incident instead of the horrific massacre that I will surely remember as the darkest 20 minutes of my life. Stripped of my God-given right to arm myself, the only defensive posture I had left was to lie prostrate on the ground and wait to die. As the shooter kicked at the door, I remember telling myself, ‘Oh well, this is it.’ It is beneath human dignity to experience the utter helplessness I felt that day. I cannot abide the thought that anyone should ever feel that again. I shall conclude by restating my warning. This will happen again and again until we learn the lesson that suppressing the bearing of arms doesn’t prevent horrific crimes; it invites them.”

Osborne argues that arming more servicemembers is the key to preventing future attacks on bases. He explores a number of ways more soldiers could be responsibly armed on base. He goes over how changes in law, military policy, or even commanders’ attitudes could effectively end the military’s strict gun control policies. Ultimately, Osborne advocates for a program that would allow military commanders to choose specific candidates to complete specialized training and carry weapons on base for self-defense and unit defense.

“Military personnel are vulnerable to active shooters primarily because of overly restrictive military firearms policies that prevent nearly all personnel from carrying firearms for unit or self defense purposes,” he said. “To remedy this vulnerability, military firearms policies should be revised to authorize Armed Security Officer (ASO) positions to be created in each military unit. Armed Security Officers will provide commanders immediate response capability and transform the Army to being proactive in addressing the active shooter threat rather than reactive, as the current arming posture dictates.”

Stephen Gutowski   Email Stephen | Full Bio | RSS
Stephen Gutowski is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He founded his own site as a junior in college and has been writing about news and politics since that time. He spent 4 years with the Media Research Center and was most recently with the Capitol City Project. His email address is Gutowski@FreeBeacon.com. His twitter handle is @StephenGutowski.

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