On Thursday, July 16, a lone gunman shot and killed five people in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Four of them were Marines and they died that day. The fifth was a sailor and he died the next day. The victims and the shooter have been identified and those close to victims have been mourning their loss.
We send our military into harm’s way much too often, but we expect them to be safe when they come home. That isn’t always the case. There have been two shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., plus the Fort Hood shootings and numerous others. The only real common denominator in all these is the easy availability of firearms. But you can’t really list that as a reason for these shootings, Second Amendment and all, that just wouldn’t be patriotic.
Neither the Chattanooga Police or the F.B.I. have found a motive for this deadly attack, but it’s easy to speculate — the shooter’s name is Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez. Well there you go: Muslim extremist. He’s had no ties to any terrorist organizations, although Abdulazeez went to Jordan last year. It’s actually a possibility he came back with radicalized views, but according to the F.B.I they haven’t found any indication.
Another truth is that the terrorist group ISIL said lone actors like Abdulazeez should target the military, soft targets in particular, like a recruiting center.
The military makes it easy too because they group all the recruiting offices into one location. When I joined the Marines oh so many years ago, the Marines and Army had offices on one side of the entrance hallway and the Air Force and Navy had offices on the other side of the hallway. Which seems odd, when you understand the U.S.M.C. is a department of the Navy — still.
- For my family, who are predominantly Navy veterans: yes, I gave the Navy a shot.
So, a recruiting office, with literally no security in or around it, is a very easy, soft target, especially if it is located in a strip mall, like the one in Chattanooga. And I know this to be true, after viewing the Navy-Marine Reserve complex here in San Diego: there is literally no security to check drivers and pedestrians going into the area.
Conversely, if you try to get on any of the Navy and Marine Corps installations you are stopped — everyone is stopped actually — and have to show I.D. If your vehicle is not registered to be on base with a sticker, you will have to produce license, registration and proof of insurance.
It’s no surprise then that the DoD and state government are beefing up security at reserve and National Guard installations and we hear, they are looking at ways to increase security at recruiting stations as well.
Of course it didn’t take long for certain members of the media — right wing nut bags — to politicize the shootings. Have you ever heard of Tomi Lahren? Me neither, until Laura Ingraham brought her to my attention, via the Twitter. The headline from Ingraham reads: “She Rips Obama To Shreds With This Epic Monologue & Says What We’ve All Been Thinking.”
First of all, who really thinks the president gives a damn what a virtual unknown right wing nut has to say about him? Who really thinks the general public gives a damn about an unknown right wing nut and what she (or he) has to say about anything? But okay, Laura Ingraham and her ilk have an agenda and “ripping Obama to shreds” is just what their small, niche audience wants to hear.
Lahren is a pundit — if we can use that term in the loosest sense — on a cable network called One America News. Never heard of it? Me neither, but apparently Laura Ingraham thinks this network and their pundit are so important her inane, one–tangent-after-another rant needs to be promoted.
It’s all Obama’s fault and, she says, Muslim extremists are the rule now, not the exception. Really? There are nearly three million Muslims in the U.S. It’s very unlikely a few lone extremists represent the views of that many people.
On the other hand, white Anglo-Saxon shooters are responsible for many more mass shootings, but no one says that’s the rule among white people. But in all fairness to Muslims, many Americans on the right think violence and crime is the rule for Hispanics and African-Americans as well, so the bigotry is evenly distributed among these minorities.
Then there’s this nut, Judge Jeanine Pirro. The title of “Judge” is to remind us she’s smart and knows a thing or two about everything. And here’s what she’s got to say about the five people who were killed in Chattanooga: It’s all President Obama’s fault. If he just let service personnel — no, ordered service personnel — to carry firearms at all times this could have been prevented.
“They’re here to kill us. They are determined to kill us. They’re here on American soil to kill us and they’re killing us!”
That’s pretty dramatic. Then she goes into her rant about arming military members at recruiting stations and other installations, throwing the top general of the Army under the bus in the process.
General Ray Odierno, Army Chief of Staff (Top Army officer) said it’s too early to decide whether to arm military recruiters, and not because of troops attacking one another in the barracks or workplace. But everything that goes along with having loaded weapons around. As if on cue a Navy recruiter in Atlanta, GA shot himself in the leg after showing a recruit his personal firearm. That had to hurt, especially for the folks like Judge Jeanine who think arming recruiters is a fine idea.
On the day of the shooting a reporter interviewed someone who had been in the Chattanooga recruiting station at the time it was attacked and the reporter asked if having the military members armed would have made a difference. Of course it would have, he said. They would have just done a low crawl out the back door, scooted around the side of the strip mall and outflanked the shooter, who was still in his car.
After the targets of that attack said they ran out the back door to get away from the shooter. So much for the low crawl. Irony, you gotta love it.
For as long as I can remember recruiters have been unarmed. It’s not a new policy, it didn’t just happen under this current president — it’s been this way forever. Same on military bases. We could only have weapons if we were authorized to carry them for a specific duty, like guard duty. We used three different types of firearms: the .45 automatic sidearm, the M-16 rifle and a 12-guage shotgun.
The military has real concerns about having a few thousand armed military members walking around the various military installations armed. Especially if they’re heading of to the E Club, or the Staff NCO Club, the O Club. Could the military have more armed people on base, when they are on duty, like more military police?
They could probably do that and they could hire security for places like recruiting centers and other small office areas not on base, like off-base housing. Secure those areas, especially with the military families present.
If the president — any president — ordered the military to arm everyone on military installations the joint chiefs would do their best to talk him (or her) out it. This morning I was thinking about how they would arm recruiters. maybe the recruiters take turns to have “The duty,” the NCO of the Day. And then the officers in the recruiting command of each area rotate the Officer of the Day duty, just like it’s done in other military installations. That actually works, but would it be practical in a setting crowded with civilians? It’s probably a good guess the Pentagon is looking at a scenario like this.
It’s a sad time for the families of Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, Lance Corporal Squire K. Wells, Sergeant David Wyatt, Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan and Sergeant Carson Holmquist, who is from a small town in Northern Wisconsin, Grantsburg, close to where my parents lived. It’s the kind of small town where people know each other, or at least know who everyone is.
The only person to blame is the shooter, who was killed by police. His family issued a statement of condolence to the people injured or killed by their son. They too are grief-stricken.
As Howard Osterkamp said, “All gave some, some gave all.” These five regrettably gave all.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.