During the attack on the recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the attacker chose "gun free" or "disarmed victim zones" for his targets. He did not enter the firs zone, he fired from outside of it. He did not hit any innocents at this target, then went to a secondary target, also a disarmed victim zone, at the Navy Operations Support Center, a few miles away. There he killed four marines, wounded another and a police officer before he was stopped.
He fired at the first target for at least 20 - 30 seconds, perhaps as much as a minute, reloading at least once, and moving the Mustang convertible that he was in at least once, before leaving, an eye witness reports. She was only feet from the attacker, but was unable to do anything. She was not armed.
The problem is that the density of armed civilians at the recruiting location was too low. There simply was no armed citizen present to counter the attack.
One of the reasons that was so is because Tennessee politicians conspired to kill a constitutional carry bill that was up before the legislature this year. Governor Haslam, who in 2010 promised that he would sign such a bill if it reached his desk, apparently did everything he could to make sure it *did not* reach his desk. From dnj.com on March 15, 2015:
MURFREESBORO – State Rep. Rick Womick continues to pursue his "constitutional carry" gun bill despite opposition from Gov. Bill Haslam.Unlike Tennessee, Kansas passed constitutional carry this year. A young man who was carrying a pistol under the constitutional carry law that went into effect in Kansas the first of July, foiled an armed robbery there just a few days ago. Constitutional carry would increase the number of potential armed responders in Tennessee.
"According to the Second Amendment, we all have the right to bear arms," said Womick, a Republican from Rutherford County's rural Rockvale community southwest of Murfreesboro. "In Tennessee, you would be allowed to carry a gun without a permit. What my bill does is it allows the person who possesses a firearm to carry that firearm openly or concealed regardless of whether the person has a handgun permit."
Womick, however, could face a harder time getting his bill through the House after the governor and his departments of education and safety red-flagged the bill, Haslam Press Secretary Dave Smith confirmed.
The House Civil Justice Subcommittee also defeated a similar open carry gun without a permit bill Wednesday.
Tennessee charges over $100 to obtain a concealed carry permit. In spite of this price tag, over 10% of the adult population has a concealed carry permit. One out of ten adults. The odds seem fair that an armed American would have been able to confront the attack at the recruitment center. The attacker was visible for many seconds, and was clearly vulnerable.
So, why didn't anyone respond to his deadly attack at the recruitment center with deadly force?
1. Pure chance. He was simply lucky. Very possible with only one of 10 adults having a permit.
2. Most of the those who had the best information about the attack, the people who were being attacked, were inside the disarmed victim zone, where, if they did what law abiding citizens usually do, they were disarmed, and did not have the tools to fight back.
3. Response time. No police showed up at the recruitment center before the attacker left. An armed citizen who is not under attack takes a number of seconds to determine what is happening, and whether deadly force is called for. The same thing happened in the Gifford attack where there was an armed citizen nearby. He drew his weapon, but by the time he responded, the attacker had been subdued by onlookers. In the Chattanooga case, the attacker left the area.
Most successful citizen responders to mass attacks are either inside of the situation, so that they have better information about who is attacking, or the attack continues long enough so that they can access their firearm and determine how to respond from outside of the situation.
In the 22 mass killings stopped by armed Americans that I have documented, 18 were stopped by armed Americans that were inside the situation. Only four were stopped by armed Americans nearby who saw what was happening and intervened to do what was necessary. The attacker greatly increased the odds in his favor by attacking people inside of "gun free" disarmed victim zones.
Following the probable modus operandi of such attacks, he likely scouted the targets well in advance, and knew that official policy was that there would be no armed opposition. There was no guard at the entrance to the NOSC, for example, and there was a clear "no guns" symbol on the door to the recruiting center.
Two policies would mitigate against such attacks and reduce casualties. First, Tennessee could reduce the barriers to the carry of weapons, thus increasing the number of armed responders. Passing the constitutional carry bill would be a good first step. Other possibilities include offering incentives for armed citizens to increase their proficiency and knowledge and to increase the percentage of the time that they go about armed.
Shooting contests could be used; perhaps attendance in courses to increase proficiency could be tax deductible or subject to a direct tax credit. A sales tax discount could be given to those who show that they are armed when making a purchase. These items would increase the presence of armed responders at very small cost to the state. Rewards could be offered for those who stop attacks. There are already criminal and civil penalties for those who misuse armed force.
A bigger payoff would be come from reducing the number of "disarmed victim zones" or "gun free" zones. That would encourage more armed responders to be present where they would do the most good. Tennessee passed a bill reducing the number of "disarmed victim" or "gun free zones" this year. This incident may provide the incentive to reduce the number of "gun free zones" even further.
Unfortunately, the state cannot do anything about federally controlled properties. The Obama administration has taken the opposite track. They strengthened regulations against service members being defensively armed after the Fort Hood attack. They continued that policy after the Navy Yard attack in the District of Columbia.
I suspect that a change in the administration will be required to change the "gun free" military policy.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch
Update: The NOSC Commander and a Marine appear to have engaged the Jihadi with personal sidearms.