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Chattanooga Shooting: What are the Lessons?

Chattanooga Shooting: What are the Lessons?

When a 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born U.S. citizen opened fire on a recruiting office and later a Naval Reserve facility in Chattanooga, Tenn., it was hard not to think, "Here we go again." Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, driving a silver Mustang and armed with a variety of firearms, opened fire on the recruiting office, damaging a glass door but causing no fatalities, then drove to the reserve facility, where he shot and killed four Marines before being killed himself.

Our default response to this sort of event has always been to point out that if the victims had been armed, they could have shot back. It is pretty idiotic that people the government has trained to handle guns are then forbidden by that same government to carry them for protection.

On the other hand, are recruiters really going to greet high schoolers investigating a military career with M9s on their hips? Are Marines who may be training in bookkeeping or helicopter maintenance going to tote M4s all day? As a practical matter, the whole stateside military establishment is not routinely going to go about armed.

Increasing security is all well and good, but the Army, for example, has 948 recruiting stations, many of them in strip malls or courthouses. Is it realistic to post armed security at all of them? This isn't Mexico, where the sight of armed guards everywhere causes no more than a shrug. This is America, and we don't have guys in Kevlar with rifles standing in front of the laundromat.

The incident is no bonanza for the antis, either. Abdulazeez was a naturalized citizen, apparently with a clean police record other than an arrest for driving under the influence. On the surface, at least, it appears there would be no reason a NICS check would have ruled out his buying a gun. We'll no doubt be hearing a lot about how he acquired his firearms, with much moralizing about whatever method he used.

He's not the dream villain for the antis, either; Dylan Roof, the Confederate flag-waving Charleston church shooter, is much more to their taste for that role.

Abdulazeez had no known al Qaeda or ISIS connections, though that is certainly under investigation. The emerging picture is of a "lone wolf" terrorist who simply decided on his own accord to attack the country that took him in and educated him. A proliferation of his kind would be a nightmare, both for gun rights and for the nation at large.

If people get to the point that they can't go to the shoe repair shop without fear because it's next to the recruiting station, they may become open to more radical solutions, whether it's rounding up all guns or rounding up all Muslims, as Ferdinand and Isabella did in 1492.

Lone wolf terrorism is a terrible challenge to the Second Amendment, and indeed to the entire Bill of Rights. It's almost impossible to imagine a free society existing if you can't go buy a roll of stamps without worrying about some jihadi wannabe with a bomb, a gun or a knife.

Having more military personnel armed would make military facilities a somewhat less inviting target, and that course needs to be pursued. It's not a cure-all for the likes of Abdulazeez, however. That's going to require some changes in our culture, and some changes in his culture.

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