WASHINGTON, September 17, 2013 — Americans are becoming more accustomed to hearing, “breaking news, there has been a shooting…” as we listen to the radio or watch television. Monday morning, we began our week hearing the same. This time, civilians at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. were terrorized by a gunman.
One may assume that because this is a military establishment that there were well-armed men and women guarding the buildings, and that at least the military employees would be able to defend themselves with their firearm. While this seems logical given the weapons training completed in the military, an order signed in 1993 by then President Bill Clinton leaves these brave men and women without the ability to carry their personal firearm for protection.
A November 2009 editorial in The Washington Times explains:
“Among President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases. In March 1993, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. For the most part, only military police regularly carry firearms on base, and their presence is stretched thin by high demand for MPs in war zones.”
For this same reason, the Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was shot by a civilian policewoman from off base. Of course, CNN’s Carol Costello apparently forgot about the Fort Hood massacre in the midst of covering Monday’s events.
“I used to work in Washington, live in Washington. This seems so unusual to me that a gunman could create this kind of havoc at a U.S. military facility,” Costello asked her producer, Brian Todd. “Have you ever heard of this happening before, Brian?” She continued, “I was just saying that this is so unusual, because this is such a heavily-secured military facility. I’ve worked in Washington for many years. I’ve never heard of such a thing happening.”
There is one thing that Costello correctly assumes: that a military facility would be well-armed and easily able to handle an attack.
Monday, Senator Diane Feinstein attempted to revive the debate over gun control, releasing a statement declaring:
“Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life.”
Perhaps Sen. Feinstein should indeed support a revived debate, but if she wants to “stop this endless loss of life” the conversation should be one that discusses removing a draconian restriction that leaves members of the military unable to defend themselves with a weapon they are trained to properly use. Then, Costello’s recollection could have been correct, if there had been a story Monday for her to even cover.
The importance of being able to defend oneself is not just conjecture. A Harvard study entitled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” analyzes and compares gun ownership, murders and suicides in the United States, western Europe and eastern Europe. When comparing one nation to another, the study explains that there are other developed nations with high gun ownership rates — this is not unique to the United States. And, in these nations, the murder rates are as low or lower than similar nations with fewer citizens owning guns. In fact, “Luxembourg, where handguns are totally banned and ownership of any kind of gun is minimal, had a murder rate nine times higher than Germany in 2002.”
The study also references the findings of Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington and a comparison he conducted of the restrictive gun policies in the United States and Canada and whether these reduced criminal violence. Centerwall states:
“If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did not begin this research with any intent to “exonerate” handguns, but there it is — a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.”
A negative finding means that where there are fewer handguns, there are higher murder rates — the correlation is opposite (one statistic increases while the other decreases). Centerwall is implying that taxpayer dollars should not be directed toward an effort to reduce the number of guns owned by a nation’s citizens because there will not be a positive correlation, or decrease, in murders.
If politicians and policy-makers would simply study the data, it would be clear that gun ownership should be encouraged in order to reduce the number of murders. There most certainly should be a gun control debate, and about that Sen. Feinstein is correct, but not in the way that the anti-gun lobby would want.
We should be discussing how to encourage more gun ownership, and whether taxpayer dollars should be allocated to help citizens learn how to better control the firearms we own. This is the gun control debate we should be having. By expanding the option for citizens in the United States to own a firearm and carry it, whether concealed or openly and in any location they choose, there would not be “gun free zones” that cry out to become the targets of a gunman on a rampage.
Senator Feinstein and others who are anti-gun should set the politics aside, and examine the reality of the statistics if safety is truly their end goal. Should they disregard the facts, then their true intentions must be questioned and exposed.
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