The military’s “gun-free” zones may have turned U.S. Marines into sitting ducks during Thursday’s attack on a recruiting center and Navy facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee – but top military brass still don’t seem willing to change the policy.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno expressed support for the gun-free policy on domestic military installations, saying the military has to be careful not to “overarm” itself.
Odierno said Friday that there was little the military could do to protect service members from the possibility of attacks like the one that occurred Thursday when Muhammad Yousseff Abdulazeez fatally shot five Marines and wounded two others at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“We’re always going to be somewhat vulnerable to a lone wolf, or whatever you want to call it, a surprise shooter, because we are out there with the population and that’s where we have to be,” said Odierno, according to an Associated Press story published by U.S. News & World Report.
But not everyone agrees. Thursday’s shooting has once again prompted calls for the military to review its 1992 policy of disarming service members on military installations, in an effort to give potential targets the ability to fight back.
On Fox News’ “The Real Story,” Marine veteran Johnny Joey Jones told Gretchen Carlson that men and women in uniform need to be able to protect themselves, and repealing the ban on guns would be a good start.
“In this day and age, they are a sitting duck. They are a target because they’re in uniform,” he said, pointing out that the military had been alerted earlier this month of possible threats against men and women in uniform.
But the prospect of giving Marines, airmen, and other service members access to the tools for self-defense doesn’t seem to be an option for Odierno.
“I think we have to be careful about overarming ourselves,” Odierno said, adding that he’s worried about “accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that cause injuries.”
Jones blasted the idea that arming personnel would somehow create a dangerous climate, saying commanders should trust service members “to do what they’re trained to do” and handle their weapons responsibly.
Odierno said the security procedures at military facilities will be reviewed, but he remained opposed to lifting the ban on firearms, even expressing skepticism about installing more armed guards.
“My initial thought is, does that cause more problems than it solves,” Odierno said.
According to the Army chief of staff, arming U.S. troops apparently makes sense when they’re getting shot at in foreign theaters of war but not when they’re getting shot at in a recruiting center in a U.S. suburb.
Military members have to wear uniforms among the general public at times to do their jobs, Jones told Fox News, which reported:
“They can’t treat us like an enemy, but they need to be prepared for when we become the enemy,” said Jones, adding that an alert to military personnel was just sent out earlier this month amid threats from ISIS on social media.
Jones also talked about his personal connection to the unit in which the slain Marines served.