So now it turns out that, despite what Trump and other publicity-mongering idiots are saying about Chattanooga, that the recruiting centers attacked by Mohammed Abdulazeez may not have been gun-free zones at all. Nobody’s yet going completely on the record, and nobody knows all the facts, but it appears that at some point during the rampage, the incoming fire at the Navy Operational Support Center, which was the second location hit that day, may have been matched by outgoing fire from guns carried by a Navy Commander as well as by one of the slain Marines.
The shooter was ultimately stopped in an exchange of gunfire between himself and local police who followed him from his first destination at a strip mall adjacent to an interchange on the Lee Highway to the Naval Reserve Base on the Annicola Highway that skirts the Tennessee River just north of the center of town. There definitely was an exchange of gunfire between Abdulazeez and personnel at the Navy facility; it’s not clear whether the Glock pistol found on the body of one of the dead Marines had been fired in response to the attack.
How long did it take the NRA and the gun lobby to get their rhetorical guns-for-hire out there to denounce the gun-free policy at military facilities that was initiated by the first President Bush? The shooting first started at 10:30 A.M. and ended within 30 minutes of when it began. Within eight hours after the shooting ended, John Lott was on the Lars Larson radio show telling everyone that the shootings occurred because both locations were gun-free zones. He put it like this: “Time after time attackers go after targets where the victims can’t defend themselves.”
But in this case, legally or not, the victims not only could defend themselves but obviously tried to defend themselves. And what ended the shooting was what always ends multiple shootings where an individual shoots people at more than one location – the cops who arrive in time and bring the situation to its tragic end. In fact, the FBI studied 160 of these shootings between 2000 and 2013 and found exactly five events, 3% of the total, which ended because an armed citizen intervened.
I have no issue with anyone who decides that a particular facility, public or private, requires the presence of armed guards. I would hate to see an armed guard standing outside my house of worship, but if the congregation decided they needed to pay for such protection, by all means let them pass around the collection plate again. Ditto with any other place where people might feel they need protection, including armed force. But the gun-free zone nonsense being promoted by the NRA and its sycophants like John Lott has nothing to do with going out and hiring competent, well-trained armed guards. It’s just a shabby and cynical way to push concealed-carry and more gun sales.
Here’s how Lott expressed it on the Larson show: “There are now 13 million people who have concealed-carry permits. They’re all over the place. If you go to a restaurant or a bank there’s a good chance that somebody nearby you will have a gun.” So what? I don’t mean in any way, shape or form to besmirch the beloved memories of the servicemen whose lives ended tragically and needlessly in Chattanooga last week. But several of them were carrying guns and may have used guns, but the rampage ended when the folks who are trained to use guns showed up at the scene.
I want to end with a comment directed at my friends in the gun-sense community who, along with everyone else, were shocked and horrified at the Chattanooga events. You are engaged in a serious fight with adversaries who want you to believe that this is an argument about Constitutional rights. It’s not. It’s an argument about life and death and their proposals to protect the former only increase the risk of the latter.