Yesterday there were two stories that both had to do with guns and what are essentially terrorist attacks. First, there was the story of 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez who attacked two places both related to the armed forces in Chatanooga Tennessee yesterday. The first was a military recruiting center, where he shot into the center but apparently didn’t kill anyone. The second, about 7 minutes away, was a Navy-Marine training center where he killed four marines, and wounded a fifth. He was then apparently shot by the police.
Also in the news yesterday was the conviction for murder of James Eagan Holmes. who killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012.
It’s not surprising that Holmes was convicted. Although he’s certifiably schizophrenic, there was every reason to believe that he could still tell right from wrong, which is the standard for insanity in the United States criminal justice system. This guy did a lot of planning before his attack, including watching movies in different theaters in order to determine in which one he could inflict the most damage.
In any case, what these cases as well as other attacks on military installations in the United States — such as the Fort Hood shootings — prove beyond a shadow of a doubt is that being armed isn’t likely to protect you when one of these nut jobs attacks. I mean, think about it: these are military bases; the personnel there have military training in how to defend themselves; and yet they still got killed.
I mean, think about Fort Hood. This Texas military base has seen successful attacks launched by single gunmen twice: in 2009, when Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others, and again in 2014, when Army Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three and wounded 14 before he shot himself. Now this is a place with “Fort” in its name, and still the military there can’t protect its own personnel on the base.
Regardless of where you stand on the 2nd Amendment — and I’m of the firm belief that it does not guarantee a right to bear arms for individual citizens who are not part of a state militia — what’s clear is that being armed is no defense to the element of surprise.
Why do these nut jobs always succeed in gunning people down? Because of the element of surprise. Because nobody expects to be attacked. Because it takes a while for our brains to click in and recognize that we’re actually being attacked. And these nut jobs — whacko as they are — all seem to be pretty good planners. They have a lot of time to think about it. And by the time they attack, the advantage is all theirs. Even against trained military personnel.