Stop Knee Jerk Reactions

Bill Neinast

Orthopedic Surgeons must be happy.  There have been so many knee jerk reactions to recent tragedies that there has to be a growing demand for knee replacement surgery.

Self-anointed experts are coming out of the woodwork in droves.  Each has his or her own version of, “I woulda, coulda, shoulda nipped that in the bud.  Why didn’t he, she, or they take the decisive action that I woulda?”

Actually, however, all that knee jerking over another mass shooting at Fort Hood has been overtaken by other incidents that raise questions about some of the suggested solutions.

Many of those with criticisms and proposals for protecting the residents and visitors of Fort Hood have a limited knowledge of that installation.  At 340 square miles, Ft. Hood is, geographically, one of the largest Army posts in the inventory.  With 50,000 soldiers assigned, it is the largest military post in America by head count.  The civilian employees and military dependents living on post raises the total population to more than 300,000.  That makes it one of the larger cities of the state.

As both Major Hassan who killed 13 at the post and Specialist Lopez who killed three and injured 16 there several days ago brought their weapons on post in their vehicles, some of the new “experts” would require searching all vehicles entering military installations.

Believers of that folly should accompany me on one of my frequent trips to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.  Even though my auto has a Fort Sam sticker indicating that it is registered on post, like every other driver entering the post, I have to stop at the gate and give the guard a picture ID for everyone in the car.

Fort Sam is much smaller in area and personnel than Fort Hood.  Nonetheless, this momentary stop of each vehicle entering post creates a traffic jam several blocks long during rush hour.  Imagine the traffic tie-up if every vehicle entering massive Fort Hood were detained for a search of the interior, including the trunk, and each passenger.

Another group of woulda, coulda problem solvers suggest that both tragedies at Fort Hood happened because the post is a gun free zone.  They believe that letting it be known that some occupants of that city might always be armed with lethal hand guns would keep most from even considering entering the post with a loaded weapon.  

Some doubt was cast on that theory or belief Monday of last week when a man walked into the lobby of a Los Angeles Police Station lobby and opened fire.  Three bullets were deflected by an officers bullet proof vest before a fourth bullet struck him in the arm.  Before the gunman could fire a fifth round, another officer took him down with a non fatal shot.

Googling “police station shootings” indicates the LA incident was not the first shootout in a police station.  Some, or maybe all, of those incidents might be suicide by cop engagements, but they indicate that allowing the open carrying of handguns everywhere would not stop the mayhem.  

An Army lieutenant was in the room targeted by Specialist Lopez several days ago.  He has a CHL, but was not allowed to carry his weapon on post because it is a gun free zone.  In his words, “I am convinced that concealed weapons would have stopped it [the current Fort Hood shooting], but openly carried sidearms, like the ones carried in a law enforcement capacity, could have prevented it entirely.  Instead, many more died because of the fatally misguided restrictions on the carrying of arms, which obviously the madman did not respect.”

Last week, more doubt was cast on the claim that incidents like the Hassan and Lopez killings occurred, at least in part, because Fort Hood is a gun free zone. Notwithstanding the presence of armed guards in a suburban high school of Pittsburgh, a young man mutilated 21 school mates with knives.  By the time a school guard arrived, the knife wielding student had been subdued by an unarmed principal.

Both the Lopez shootings and the Pittsburgh stabbings were brought under control by properly armed and trained guards.  Lopez killed himself when confronted by a Military Police woman with drawn pistol and the school knife wielder was effectively subdued with handcuffs by the armed guard, who was also cut in the melee. 

So here’s the perspective.

Tragedies occur in this country on a daily basis.  Nearly all of them happen on highways.  The latest example is the bus/FedEx truck accident in California in which ten people died.  

When buses collide, we just shake our heads and say something like, “What a shame!”

Not so when there is a shooting.  Then there are shouts of, “We need more armed citizens on every corner.”  Never mind that Hassan and Lopez legally bought their weapons and that a retired policeman with a concealed handgun license killed a movie patron in Florida over a texting argument.  

Believing that having more “law abiding” citizens packing heat will stop deranged individuals like Hassan, Lopez, suicide by cop individuals, and the Pennsylvania knife wielder is as logical as thinking that passing a law making it a felony for one person to kill another would stop the carnage.     


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