With the recent mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5th (14 dead, 30 wounded), and another shooting two days later in Florida (1 dead, 5 injured), I’d like to think there’s something we can change so that less lives will be lost in the future. Sure there is a lot to do in the form of prevention, but I think that’s where all the focus gets put, and not much time is spent trying to improve how things go once a shooting has started.
People need to be willing to accept the fact that from time to time, despite all our best efforts, mass shootings will occur. It is a very sad fact, but that’s the way it is. In the Fort Hood shooting for example, the alleged killer was a major in the army and a psychiatrist. Sometimes even the people we trust the most can turn against us.
Once we accept the fact that mass shootings will occur, we should focus on the questionof how to end the shootings as quickly as possible. In the Fort Hood shooting, the shooter was able to fire more than one hundred rounds from a semi-automatic handgun before he was brought to a stop by deadly force. He was on the largest U.S. military base in the world and yet it was two civilian police officers who stopped him: Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd (both heroes in my book).
When I read that it was two civilian police officers that ended the carnage on a huge military base, something seemed odd to me. I imagined military bases as having lots of soldiers with most of them armed and able to defend themselves. I found this is not the case.
It turns out that the only typically armed people on our military bases are the military police. Soldiers are allowed to check firearms out of the armory for use on the range, but that’s about it. It’s absurd to me that our soldiers who fight and defend our freedom and who are generally proficient in the use of firearms are not allowed to carry on the military bases where they work, train and in some cases live. Even concealed carry permit holders who are generally allowed to carry in public aren’t allowed to carry on bases. When the shooter opened fire at Fort Hood, the soldiers were left defenseless and waiting for the police to arrive so they could end the shooting. When a mass shooting is in progress, every second is a potentially lethal second and the police are minutes away.
Time and time again we see that it takes deadly force in the form of a firearm to end a mass shooting. All too often these mass shootings occur in so called “gun-free zones” where only the police are allowed to have firearms. In other words, people are dependent upon the police to show up to end the shooting. In the case of the Fort Hood shooting, even the military base was a “gun-free zone” (with the exception of the firing range) just like Virginia Tech was, and as are most college campuses. Does making “gun-free zones” stop violent criminals from committing their crimes? Or do they just keep law-abiding citizens from carrying and being able to defend themselves? I know the idea of a “gun-free zone” seems like a good idea, but in reality, don’t they just help the criminals?
Concealed carry is the concept of carrying a firearm on your person and in a manner so that somebody looking at you wouldn’t know you’re carrying. While the laws on concealed carry vary throughout the states, (from Wisconsin and Illinois which prohibit concealed carry, to Alaska and Vermont where concealed carry is legal without any permit) most states allow for concealed carry with some sort of permit. Concealed carry is not for everyone, but it allows law-abiding citizens to be able to protect themselves and not rely solely on the police in certain situations; legalized concealed carry allows ordinary citizens to be able to protect themselves and end shootings. If concealed carry was allowed on Fort Hood, there are no guarantees that somebody would have been armed in the vicinity of the shooter or that they would have decided to use their firearm against the shooter, but there would at least have been that possibility; currently it’s not allowed under the law.
Shouldn’t law-abiding citizens be able to legally carry concealed weapons so that they might be able to protect themselves in times of intense violence and perhaps save the lives of many others in the process?
Or are “gun-free zones” where criminals are armed, law-abiding citizens are unarmed, and people are dependent on police to come the rescue, a good idea?
Aaron Berk is a computer engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.