Friday, November 6, 2009

Sara Island, Goodfellas, Fort Hood, and Gun Control

When I was a kid, my father and I would go to a deer hunting camp called Sara Island (actually a peninsula) on the Mississippi River. If I remember right, if you started off in north Mississippi, you had to go through Arkansas and Louisiana to get there. And it was in Mississippi.
That place had more guns per acre than anywhere I've ever been.
About a hundred yards outside each entrance to the camp housing area was a sign stating YOU MUST UNLOAD GUNS NOW ! $50.00 FINE FOR ANY LOADED WEAPON IN CAMP. Hunters who had been friends for life didn't hesitate to check each other's guns, good manners be damned, just to be sure. Ammo was everywhere, in pockets, vests, and glove compartments, but the guns were unloaded in camp. We were in an incredibly remote area, but had no fear. No one in his right mind would attack us, rob us, or anything else. It was one of the safest places I've ever been.

Remember the wedding reception scene in Goodfellas, where Ray Liotta's new bride is worried about whether their wedding cash will be safe if left alone at their table? Liotta laughs, and says that they're probably in the safest room in the United States. She doesn't know that everyone in the room is Mafia. Would anyone have dared to rob someone in that room?

Which gets me to my point.... Are military bases gun-free zones? Can anyone except M.P.'s carry while on base? Is there a point to having 500,000 U.S. soldiers on duty if every single one of them isn't packing heat? This is an incredibly sad day, and I don't want to cheapen the tragedy by making a cheap anti-gun control point, but lord have mercy, how can someone go onto a U.S. military base and kill that many soldiers before people start shooting back?

But I can't resist cheapening the tragedy by taking this cheap shot:
This must have been one hell of a conference. Before our president got around to delivering the national announcement about the Fort Hood shooting, he gave us two-minutes worth of remarks about an incredible policy wonk conference, including a shout-out (:25) to his homies in the crowd. Dang, I wish I could have been at that conference. Sandwiched in the middle are some incidental remarks to the nation about the shooting at Fort Hood. At the 4:35 mark, he gets back to the conference.

We're in the best of hands....


Anonymous said...

Yes, military bases are gun-free zones.

Soldiers are not allowed to have firearms on-post, with two exceptions that would not have made any difference in an active shooter situation.

The first exception is a live-fire training exercise, such as rifle or pistol qualification. In this case, weapons are signed out of an armory and ammunition is handed out to soldiers at the firing range only. I don't know how much it varies, but when I was handed ammunition, I had to sign a sheet stating that I received a specified number of rounds of ammunition of a specified caliber.

The second exception involves traveling to a range on-post. In that case, you carry your own weapon, but it must be unloaded and carried per federal travel rules.

Otherwise, only MPs and Criminal Investigative Division (CID) can carry a loaded weapon on post.

As this case has shown, if a terrorist group can make it past the rent-a-cops that guard most army base gates, they will find a mass of unsuspecting, unarmed, complacent victims. That's the reality of the situation, and I doubt very highly that it will change any time soon.

Harper said...

I beg to differ. I will agree that service weapons and ammunition are closely controlled and signed in and out of the arms rooms.

I disagree that the post is a 'gun-free zone'. Fort Hood has thousands of housing units on post and the occupants of those houses have the same right to own and bear arms as the rest of America. Lived there, owned guns.

Fort Hood is BIG. Just like a small city, there is 'response time' for an armed first responder to arrive on scene.

An ironic counterpoint. We were in Germany during the 1998 embassy bombings. Instantly the posts went to heightened security. Part of the increased security put armed soldiers in the DoD schools. You wouldn't believe the number of (military) parents that complained about having armed guards for their kids.

Anonymous said...

It's true that, in the strictest sense of the term, Army posts are not gun-free zones. However, the term "gun-free zone" is often equated to areas where concealed carry of a loaded weapon is prohibited. In the more common usage, all Army posts are gun-free zones: CCW is strictly prohibited to those not directly involved with military law enforcement.

Yest, there are weapons on post, for those who live on post. But a weapon in your barracks room or govt housing unit isn't going to do you any good in an active-shooter scenario. Hell, even a loaded weapon in your car might be of limited use: by the time you run to your car and come back to confront the shooter, he could have already killed a half a dozen people.

Only MPs (while on duty) and CID officers are allowed to carry weapons in the condition most useful for scenarios such as that at Ft. Hood, i.e. loaded and readily accessible.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Anybody else? I've done a bit o' Googling and can't find a definite answer about where weapons can and can't be carried on base.

Harper said...

Chris Zimmer, DES operations responds: Fort Hood Regulation 190-11 was recently revised to allow people to transport a legal weapon on the installation as long as it is unloaded and stored in the trunk, a cargo storage container in the bed of a truck, or a locked container in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

There is no longer a requirement to register weapons on post, unless the weapon will be stored on post in an arms room or Family housing.

Drivers are required to declare that they are transporting a weapon if sent to the search area at a gate for a random inspection, if stopped by a police patrol, or if stopped at a random security check point on post. From here.

More references:
Fort Hood reg 190-11

Recently released memorandum specific to barracks. They have to be stored in the unit arms room if you live in barracks.

Quarters policy requiring that they are registered with the provost, page 27.

Text from a town hall session, specifies how weapons should be transported on Fort Hood.

Harper said...

Sorry, messed up the last link. Here it is.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Gentlemen, Ladies,

This is Harper. She is the final word on just about everything.

Ok, many shooters were behind the grassy knoll in Dallas during the Kennedy parade?

Harper said...

Coincidentally, my daughter signed up for some community service hours (her school allows various organizations to post their needs) and she is working at the 'JFK Lancer' conference next weekend. I had never heard of the organization, but they claim to be devoted to "revealing the truth surrounding the assassination of...JFK". So, I'll get back to you on that grassy knoll thing.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Here's a military spouse, quoted by Ed Driscoll of Pajama's Media:

"The wife of one of the soldiers shot at Fort Hood understands all too well. In an interview on CNN Monday night, Anchor John Roberts asked Mandy Foster how she felt about her husband’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Ms. Foster responded: “At least he’s safe there and he can fire back, right?”