On social media and elsewhere, soldiers have been speaking out about their inability to defend themselves at work in the wake of last week's shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. (Army)
In the wake of last week’s shooting on Fort Hood many soldiers and some lawmakers are calling on the military to reconsider allowing troops to carry concealed weapons on post.
On social media and elsewhere, soldiers have been speaking out about their inability to defend themselves at work.
“It’s the only place that a licensed soldier can’t carry,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Wiley, who’s assigned to the 708th Contingency Contracting Team at Fort Campbell, Ky. “When you’re deployed,you have your weapon issued to you, and it’s mandatory that you carry it. Then you come back home and you come onto post, and ... the only people who are going to have weapons are military police ... and those who don’t care about the law.”
Wiley contends that soldiers are trained to carry and handle weapons.
“I don’t understand why it’s muscle memory downrange but not at home,” he said.
After the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Wiley said he and his fellow soldiers had to sit through ineffective active-shooter training.
“It’s ridiculous. All they do is put a Band-Aid on it, check the block,” he said. “The briefing told us to shut the door, turn off the light and hide behind the desk. And do what? Pray that someone with a gun comes to save me?”
A warrant officer, who asked to remain anonymous so he could speak freely, said he believes select soldiers should be allowed to carry weapons on post.
“If somebody is in a trusted position, someone with a security clearance, somebody who’s in charge of making sure a soldier’s welfare is taken care of, they should be carrying some sort of protection so we don’t have to wait 10 to 15 minutes for the police to show up,” said the warrant officer, who’s been in the Army since 2008 and is training to become a helicopter pilot. “That way we’re not forced to either run, which we don’t like to do, or use our bodies to protect somebody else, because that’s our only option right now.”
The warrant officer also said he believes potential shooters may think twice if he knows some soldiers may be carrying a concealed weapon.
“We can’t afford to have a military police officer at every building and every door,” he said.
Eric Chambers, a former Army medic and sergeant, agreed.
“At the very least, allow senior enlisted and company officers to carry handguns,” he said. “This way almost every area and soldier will have protection nearby. If we cannot trust our senior NCOs and officers to protect our troops, then who can we trust?”
Lawmakers are also speaking out.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno if a hearing to discuss the issue was warranted.
“There’s clearly a difference of opinion on this,” Odierno said. “Our assessment is we probably wouldn’t initially support something like that, but all of this is worth a discussion.”
Odierno’s latest comments echo what he said April 3, also while testifying in front of the SASC.
“We have our military police and others that are armed, and I believe that’s appropriate,” he said in response to a question from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. “I believe that allows us the level of protection necessary.”
Three soldiers were killed and 16 others wounded April 2 when a fellow soldier opened fire on them with a .45 caliber handgun.
The accused gunman, Spc. Ivan Lopez, killed himself after he was confronted by a military police soldier, officials said.
In a news briefing Monday, officials said Lopez opened fire after an argument. He then left and drove away, shooting at times from his car. The three soldiers who were killed were gunned down in separate locations.
Investigators said Lopez fired more than 35 shots in an eight-minute period.
As of Monday, 11 of the 16 injured soldiers have returned to duty.
A memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon on Fort Hood. President Obama is expected to attend.
In 2009, 13 people were killed by then-Maj. Nidal Hasan, who had said he was angry about being deployed to Afghanistan and wanted to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from U.S. troops.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.