Much of the response to a deadly shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn. last week has been gun-related. This week, seven states have armed their National Guard members, many citing a need for “protection” of civilians and military personnel.
The July 16 shooting that left five military servicemen dead has many Republican lawmakers questioning laws that restrict access to guns by military personnel. As The Hill reported, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) of Calif. told reporters on Tuesday that Congress could vote to lift a ban barring members of the military from carrying weapons. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds the Defense Department annually, that would allow service members to carry weapons has passed in the House already.
“Right now, we have the NDAA and that’s being discussed in conference as well, that provision,” McCarthy said. “It could be in the NDAA conference because they have that issue inside there where it could allow the base commander to have the determination.”
The amendment, written by US Representatives Michael McCaul (R) and John Carter (R), both of Texas, and Scott Rigell (R) of Virginia, strikes a chord with many conservative Americans.
Rep. McCaul issued a statement after the House passed the NDAA in May that described the horrific attacks on Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas:
“Texas has twice mourned the loss of our soldiers and civilians after shootings at Fort Hood just north of my district. In 2009, Nidal Hassan walked into Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Center … and opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 42 others in the most horrific terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11. Five years later, another shooter opened fire on the base, killing four and wounding 16 others. Enough is enough. We must give our base commanders more discretion and our soldiers more protection.”
Now the House and Senate must now work together to reconcile the two bills. This happens in a conference committee appointed by both the House and the Senate.
After the shooting in Chattanooga, the pressure has mounted. Outspoken presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for an end of gun free zones in a tweet last week.
And yet, others have been more skeptical. A New York Times report reveals that the FBI confirmed that at least one service member shot the attacker – this means that at least one weapon was readily available.