Chattanooga: We’ve Been Abandoned (Again)
I published this on Breach Bang Clear last week. It could use a little updating, since we’ve now learned that two service members apparently did fight back. But the story I tell about “Cris” is probably still relevant to the debate about armed service members.
So let’s discuss a purely fictional situation…
Let’s say there was this guy once. He was a soldier, combat vet, and like many National Guardsmen was a cop in civilian life. He was temporarily on active duty, working on a totally fictional military base.
We’ll call our fictional soldier/cop… “Cris”.
Cris worked on a state-owned base, not a federal base. As a cop, Cris was allowed by law to carry a gun on this base. Of course, Cris always carried his gun. Cris had a lot of training, including training on how to respond to active shooters. When the base decided to make an active shooter response plan, Cris advised the soldiers who wrote it and even addressed a large group of soldiers on the realities of active shooter incidents. Cris was also a senior NCO with two combat deployments. It seemed to make nothing but sense to allow Cris to carry a concealed weapon on base.
Cris had checked the base’s policies and saw that they specifically allowed police officers to carry on base. But Cris kept his weapon hidden and secret from anyone he didn’t know, just as he always did when wearing civilian clothes. In many months working on the base, Cris never had any issues carrying his weapon.
Then one day Cris screwed up. He was in the parking lot loading something into his trunk, inadvertently lifted his uniform top and exposed his weapon to someone. No words were exchanged, and Cris didn’t even know his weapon had been seen. But the other person reported Cris by name and rank to the base command post. And that’s where this totally fictional situation got really stupid.
Soldiers at the command post knew who Cris was. Rather than say, “He’s a cop and he’s within the law and base policy,” they reported Cris to the base’s threat assessment center. Soldiers at the threat assessment center knew Cris too; they interacted with him on a regular basis. Instead of saying, “He’s a cop and he’s within the law and base policy,” they contacted Cris’ major command. Word filtered down, and Cris was called into a Sergeant Major’s office.
The Sergeant Major was new and didn’t know Cris. He informed Cris about the report. Cris responded, “Sergeant Major, I’m a cop.” The Sergeant Major had a brain and immediately responded, “Oh hell, what’s the big deal then?” But he explained he was still required to address the situation with higher. Cris said, “No worries, Sergeant Major,” and waited for the official “carry on” order to come down the chain.
A short time later, Cris was officially advised that even though the law permitted him to carry a weapon, and base policy permitted him to carry, and he had extensive and necessary skills that would be critical in an active shooter incident, the base’s commander didn’t want him to carry. Because allowing soldiers to carry weapons on base isn’t safe. The senior leadership’s plan for defending the base from attack was “disarm anyone willing and able to resist.”
Some might say that barring Cris from carrying on post was stupid. Some might say it was irrational. Some might say, in the event of an active shooter event, it made tragedy more rather than less likely. But none of that mattered. All that mattered was, it made the base leadership feel safer.
This situation – totally fictional, bearing zero resemblance or connection to anyone within writing distance of this computer – taught Cris a very important lesson. Despite the fact that Cris was a longtime cop, was known as a skilled and experienced pistol shooter, had never done anything to suggest he would be a threat to other soldiers, had provided badly-needed perspective and experience to the base’s active shooter plan, had a decades-long history of honorable service and had even been recognized for his actions in combat, he was viewed as a threat simply because he was armed.
That’s not leadership. That’s a sign proclaiming, “It doesn’t matter whether our troops are 18-year old E-1 cooks or 40-year old combat arms officers. We don’t trust them.”
Days ago our military experienced a horrific attack in Tennessee. American troops who braved overseas combat were shot down like defenseless cattle in a slaughterhouse, on our own soil. They died without weapons in their hands. I’m sure they didn’t die unarmed because they chose to be unarmed.
They died because their leaders abandoned them.
Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at email@example.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).
Filed under: 2nd Amendment | 8 Comments
Tags: chattanooga, Concealed Carry, terrorism, veteran writers