The President of the anti gun Brady Campaign issued the following statement in response to the Fort Hood, TX mass shooting, in which a Army soldier illegally carried a gun on base and then opened fire on his fellow (unarmed) soldiers. The alleged shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, is reportedly believed to have opened fire in an act of revenge for what he perceived as American misdeeds against his fellow Muslims in other countries. The shooting was eventually stopped by a heroic police officer who just happened to be on base for car repairs. The Brady Campaign’s statement regarding this tragedy is grossly misleading, and little more than an attempt to twist the facts of this tragedy to suit the Brady Campaign’s anti gun agenda:The Brady Campaign’s press release
Statement on Fort Hood Tragedy
Nov 6, 2009
Washington, DC – Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, issued the following statement about the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas:
“Our deepest sympathies go to the families who lost loved ones or are today visiting them in the hospital. Along with the rest of the country, we wish the Fort Hood community a return to a secure and safe environment.
“When I heard of the tragedy yesterday, we were in the midst of planning a response to the latest dangerous legislative proposal from the gun lobby in the United States Senate – language to automatically restore access to guns to veterans designated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Justice Department as ‘mentally incapacitated’ or ‘mentally incompetent.’ In light of what happened yesterday – a violent attack by an emotionally unstable soldier – it is even clearer that the proposal being pushed by Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina should be rejected.
“America has seen an epidemic of horrific gun violence at churches and synagogues, workplaces, health clubs, high schools, universities, police stations and now Army bases. This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified Army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places. Enough is enough.”
How this statement is grossly misleading
In the final paragraph, Mr. Helmke states that “This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified Army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places,” suggesting that the shooter was able to harm his many victims despite the fact that they were on a “heavily fortified” Army base. This statement plays on the fact that many Americans don’t know that soldiers at military bases inside the US are disarmed the vast majority of the time. I happen to work on an Army installation (as a civilian in a legal office), and can clarify that confusion:
Despite popular myth, soldiers at military installations inside the US are generally NOT armed. Their government-issued firearms are kept locked up except for when they are actively using them (e.g. qualifying on the range), after which time the weapons are returned to the armory. Even when they do have their government-issued weapons out of the armory, they are not allowed to possess ammunition. Soldiers’ privately owned weapons may not be kept or carried, and are locked up in the armory except for when the soldiers check them out for brief periods of time (e.g. off-base hunting trips). Soldiers who violate the gun control laws and regulations are severely punished. Only the Military Police (MPs) (or private security contractors often used to replace MPs these these days) are armed, while the other tens of thousands of soldiers at a base such as Fort Hood are unarmed.
The fact that the Fort Hood shooter was able to harm so many victims, before being shot by one of the few armed guards at the base, is sad proof of a recurring theme: “gun free zones” (which includes military installations inside the US) just ensure that the law-abiding victims are disarmed, while failing to stop the law-breaking person who is bent on killing as many innocent people as possible. Here, a law-breaking murderer who happened to be a solider violated the military’s gun laws and brought a gun on base, then used that gun to murder his gun-ban-obeying victims.
How this statement is an attempt to twist the facts of this tragedy to suit the Brady Campaign’s anti gun agenda
Mr. Helmke also used this tragedy as an attempt to undermine the proposed Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (S. 669 and H.R. 2547), two bills which would prevent America’s veterans from being arbitrarily stripped of their gun rights by an out-of-court decision, in which they were denied due process of the law. This proposed law doesn’t prevent those veterans who are mentally ill from being denied the right to have a gun. Instead, it just ensures that the process through which a veteran is stripped of their Second Amendment rights based upon a Veteran’s Affairs administration determination takes place in front of a judge or other impartial judicial authority. Such a hearing can happen very quickly (such judges and magistrates are available 24/7, and a hearing can take place in just minutes).
Moreover, this proposed law is quite narrow, and only deals with determinations of mental incapacity that are reached by the Veteran’s Affairs administration. This means that other state/federal laws that allow any person to be swiftly denied their gun rights remain would unaffected. In sum, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act just prevents the individuals who have fought for our country from being wrongfully denied their 2nd Amendment rights by a Veteran’s Affairs determination, without getting a fair hearing in court.
It is bad enough that the Brady Campaign has chosen to greatly misrepresent the facts of the Fort Hood tragedy in order to advance their anti gun agenda in general. Twisting that tragedy into a justification for wrongfully denying our veterans their most basic constitution rights just adds insult to injury.
Note: My deepest condolences to the victims of the Fort Hood shooting. Having had the privilege of working alongside Army soldiers, I’ve found them to be some of the honorable and upstanding individuals out there. This tragedy is a terrible loss for our entire nation.