There has been a close association between sexually transmitted diseases and the military for as long as the two have existed, but the focus of this article is not Venereal Disease, but a different kind of VD that has shocked the military community and the nation. The VD which currently plagues the military and puts our soldiers at grave risk is the policy of Victim Disarmament which has been increasingly prevalent even as laws in the civilian world have been moving in the opposite direction
While some have pointed to regulation changes during the Clinton administration as the turning point, VD on military bases has been the trend since at least the 1960's and to a lesser extent even before that. In military society, so heavily steeped in discipline and control, it is only natural that those in power would be inclined to drift in the direction of micro-management and centralized control. Commanders in the modern military seem to have gravitated toward a paternalistic role and that paternalism runs all through the chain of command and seems to apply to all subordinates regardless of their age, rank, or experience.
When a Muslim major decided he was on the wrong side in the War on Terrorism and began shooting soldiers and civilian workers in a premeditated attack at a Ft. Hood processing center, we were all shocked. Shocked that anyone in the U.S. military could turn on his brothers- and sisters-in-arms with such viciousness. Shocked that a commissioned officer could hold such radical religious views and not be recognized as a threat.
But we were especially shocked that anyone could go on a killing spree in the middle of a busy Army base and not run into any armed resistance for over 10 minutes.
The public was dumbfounded to learn that virtually everyone on all military bases outside of war zones is required to disarm while on base. Even officers and senior NCOs who are licensed to carry concealed in the state where the base is located are forbidden to have a readily accessible firearm virtually anywhere on base. Only MPs and contract security guards may legally go about a military installation armed and even they are generally forbidden to carry when not on duty.
But who could have imagined that anyone would ever dare to attack soldiers on an Army base? Well, just as the "unimaginable idea of using commercial aircraft as guided weapons had been widely publicized in popular novels and was officially included in national threat assessments as a likely scenario, the idea of attacking personnel on a military installation was not novel or new. A group of home-grown wannabe Muslim terrorists made elaborate plans to do just that back in 2007. After their plot was uncovered, many in the rights community pointed out the huge vulnerability created by the Army's Victim Disarmament policies and called for changes, at least to allow qualified officers and senior NCOs to keep weapons handy. Those calls went unheeded. Some commands went in the opposite direction with commanding officers tightening restrictions on weapons in base housing units and even forbidding soldiers from legally carrying when off-base and out of uniform.
In the wake of the atrocity at Ft. Hood the Army says it – along with the other branches – will be reviewing security policies and procedures. I don't expect to see them give up their VD policies. It is much more likely that they will conclude that they need to hire more civilian security guards and perhaps implement some sort of alert system similar to those implemented by universities, based around text messages sent to cell phones.
After all, what if the Army allowed soldiers to be armed and they used them to commit crime, or to shoot each other over traffic disputes? What about the danger of police mistaking an armed defender for the active murderer or an armed defender accidentally shooting innocent bystanders?
We've heard all of the "what if" arguments in every state that has ever debated concealed carry legislation or talked about extending the right to carry to college campuses. For some reason the fact that none of the dire "what ifs" have ever materialized and that armed defense is consistently demonstrated to be safe and effective, just carries no weight with paternalistic authoritarians who don't fully trust their charges.
More than two years after the Army received a dramatic warning about the vulnerability created by their VD policies, that vulnerability has been horrifically exploited. And in the face of that experience, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines remain helpless in the face of threats of armed attack.
Unlike Venereal Disease, Victim Disarmament can be easily eradicated, particularly in the military. All it takes is the will and a little bit of trust.
Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included. Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org.