CHICAGO – Not even soldiers on an American military base such as Fort Hood
are immune from the unique threat from powerful and increasingly lethal
handguns. Army Major Malik Nadal Hasan is a psychiatrist who treated returning
vets suffering from PTSD and other issues of mental illness.
He was scheduled to
deploy to Iraq within weeks. Unconfirmed news outlets initially reported that
Hasan used two privately-owned handguns, a semiautomatic handgun and a .357
revolver to murder 13 people (12 soldiers and 1 civilian) and wound 28 others
before being wounded by a policewoman responding to the scene.
In response, Freedom States Alliance communications director, Scott Vogel
offered condolences to the victims and families of the shooting massacre stating
“It is particularly heartbreaking for our nation that so many brave and selfless
men and women who serve our country have lost their lives as the result of this
Lt. Gen Robert Cone, the Commanding General of Fort Hood, said that the
handguns used by Hasan to murder his fellow soldiers were not military weapons.
When asked during the press conference on Thursday night whether the soldiers
under attack were armed, Gen. Cone made a remarkable statement:
“As a matter of practice we do not carry weapons. This is our home.
(Emphasis added). We do have security guards that are here, the MP’s and the
Department of the Army civilian police… the fact is that soldiers do not carry
weapons routinely unless they are in a training event.”
Such a definitive statement from the commanding general of the largest
American base demonstrates the military’s own concern about the easy access to
handguns and other weapons, even from its own highly trained and disciplined
military personnel. Such a restrictive policy against carrying guns, even for
soldiers who are prepared for combat, should give guidance to lawmakers about
the need to better control access to firearms for civilians.
In addition, our lawmakers must recognize that soldiers with multiple
deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and who suffer high rates of combat
fatigue, PTSD, substance abuse and other mental health concerns, are at greater
risk due to the easy access to guns. Despite this fact, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
is pushing a gun lobby backed bill, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act
(S. 669), that would limit the circumstances in which a veteran’s name could be
added to a federal database used to do instant background checks for gun
Sen. Burr’s legislation would prohibit the Veteran’s Administration from
submitting soldiers’ names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check
database unless a judge determines the veterans to be a danger to themselves or
to others. Such a high standard ensures that soldiers will gain easier access to
firearms regardless of their emotional state or mental health and will put
themselves and others at greater risk of violence.
“This tragic shooting highlights the need for our policymakers to
courageously stand up to the gun lobby to pass stronger gun laws and provide
solutions to the 280 million guns in private hands that put us all at risk.
Afterall, if the good men and women on our nation’s largest army base are
vulnerable to a mass shooting, then clearly we have a national gun crisis that
demands our attention,” said Sally Slovenski, Freedom States Alliance executive