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The Fort Hood shooting took place on November 5, 2009, at the most populous U.S. military installation in the world. In the course of the shooting, a single gunman, an army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 29 others.

The armed guards, base police, base security systems, and trained servicemen were unable to prevent this massacre and I can't believe that any rational thinking human being would believe that police on campus, armed teachers, and security systems can or will prevent the next rampage of a mentally ill person with access to guns that assaults people at a school; or a mall; or a theater; or any other place where people gather.

Mentally ill people need treatment and when necessary residential care and treatment centers to keep them from harming themselves or others. Unfortunately, services for the mentally ill are always among the first places deficit hawks look to make budget cuts. Consequently, people in need of care and treatment are denied the requisite treatment, care, and support systems necessary to address their individual needs and the needs of society. The untreated and unsupervised mentally ill are allowed to move about in our communities until they are arrested for criminal behavior, convicted, and sentenced to the jail, the institution of last resort.

Until then, the mentally ill and the people that they come in contact with are at ever increasing risk of violent acting out that can inflict injuries and fatalities on themselves and others.

We can and should do better but that should not include arming teachers or others at our schools.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Um, ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      retLT

      two people at Ft. Hood shot Hasan, paralyzing him from the waist down, thus preventing him from killing even MORE people, as was clearly his intent.  The many survivors owe their lives to them.

      The irony here is that the shooter was himself a "mental health professional".

      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

      by Neuroptimalian on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:28:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amen. I Live A Few Miles From A Huge (8+ / 0-)

    base. Huge! When I would go see this women I dated on said base it was easier to get on a plane then to go see her. I don't think most people get this. When I'd come see her she was required to come get me at the "gate." I had to be escorted around.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 04:57:58 PM PST

  •  Pretty good, but ready access to weaponry, (12+ / 0-)

    not mental illness, is what makes this problem so pernicious in the U.S.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 04:58:44 PM PST

  •  Dang. I forgot about that. (13+ / 0-)

    Wingnuts on Facebook were pushing the "arm teachers" crap. I should have remembered this, but the number of these incidents to refer to gets overwhelming.

  •  The "gun free zones did it" thing being pushed is (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, cany, gramofsam1, myboo, retLT

    very ugly, very irresponsible, and very dumb.

    Nancy Lanza's home was also not a "gun free zone."

  •  Fort Hood also shows the futility of security (8+ / 0-)

    when the person doing the shooting is familiar with the security, ie, he's somebody with a legitimate reason to be there and knows all about whatever physical or procedural security exists.

    Columbine also illustrates that point, but it is less obvious.

    There is a reason in the IT world you simply have to trust your system administrators and to a lesser extent, your programmers.  To do their job they need enough access to do a lot of damage if they go rogue.

    Physical security has a lot of the same problems.

    Basically if somebody "belongs" in an environment, they're going to be able to do damage there.  How much damage depends on the level of weaponry they can smuggle in (or carry in from an insecure location before anyone can react).

    The Sandy Hill shooter was able to carry his weapons with impunity probably right up to the parking lot of the school.   His weapons were sufficient to defeat the security door...and after that the measures of locking classroom doors and closets and such did slow him down but could not stop him.

    Had he been an employee of the school, or a student there, he'd have been able to pick a time where even more people could have been killed (eg, lunchtime, or a change of classes, where it would have been a lot harder to lock down classrooms and hide students)

    •  Otherwise known as "an inside job" - when (0+ / 0-)

      someone with superior, specific knowledge uses that information to gain a devastating advantage.

      •  Right. And the defense against this? (6+ / 0-)

        Treat people that you need to trust well.

        Don't screw the people you rely on to maintain and secure your environment.

        In a military base, that would be anybody who is armed, to start.

        There are also some common sense things, that tend to be actually implemented.  In a police station, for example, police have to check guns before entering places where a prisoner might make a grab for it.   In an IT environment, you don't give your developers the same privileges in production that they enjoy in their development environment, even though they do have a "need" to access the production environment at times to help with troubleshooting, verify build rollouts or whatever.

        Nothing's perfect though.  People can go rogue for reasons out of control of anyone setting up a system.

        •  Depends on the level of risk - there will always (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus

          be insiders.

          Someone explained that their Quakers meeting house had solved the problem of pedophilia risk by ensuring that no adults were ever alone with children who were not their own.  Pairs of adults supervised children, always, no exceptions. That's a way to reduce the risk of "insiders" betraying the community and abusing the children. I wish more institutions would recognize they need to mitigate risk - because like you say, it can never be fully eliminated, only reduced.

          •  Security is always a risk vs inconvenience (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LilithGardener, worldlotus

            tradeoff.

            For any process or location to be totally secure, the process has to not do anything and the location has to be inaccessible by any means.

            Ie useless.

            The Quaker solution requires twice the manpower of extending trust to the childcare people.  They judged that the risk of pedophilia was worth the difficulty of finding double the number of childcare people (or grouping the kids into larger bunches so they could get the same effect with fewer people).

            Where the risk is no big deal, the bias is toward far less security.  Risk to property or information bumps things up a few notches. When the risk escalates to human death or injury, (or institutional "death/injury" ie by lawsuits or reputation damage) security measures tend to be more stringent.

  •  I was there. (7+ / 0-)

    I blame it on the shitty civilian security guards who were in place for years beforehand.

    We had No MP's at the gate.  We had contractors who merely glanced at tags, and didn't bother searching cars of anybody with a high enough rank.

    Of course AFTER the event we had every single gate guarded by armed guards.

    Of course nobody bothered addressing the fact that it was a bully who picked the most vulnerable soldiers to shoot.  

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:24:29 PM PST

  •  Very few soldiers carry firearms on base unless (7+ / 0-)

    they're in training or deploying. Other than that, they are locked up, for the most part.

    "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

    by second gen on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:31:27 PM PST

    •  The military bases exercise gun control (5+ / 0-)

      Weapons are issued only to military personnel who have a need for them in the performance of their duties.

      My reference to trained servicemen was to make the point that military men/women are trained to react to threats.

      Their reaction may be a counter-offensive or defensive in nature until the threat can be neutralized.

    •  Because its not safe ? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Over the Edge, gramofsam1, second gen

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:47:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)

        My daughter was at Ft. Hood during the shooting. She told me that soldiers weren't allowed to have their arms unless training. There was also a directive that soldiers could NOT bring their personal arms on base. If they owned any and LIVED on base, they had to hand them in to be locked up unless needed for target practice or hunting. Nobody ever checked. Hunters would drive around regularly with their guns in the back seat and no one at the gate ever gave them any trouble.

        When you don't enforce the laws and rules available, those who want to break them know they can without any problem.

        "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

        by second gen on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 03:14:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are exactly right and congress exacerbates (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          second gen

          the problem by cutting funds to research and enforcement agencies to intentionally hamper their abilities to do their jobs. For example, the Center for Desease Control had it's funding cut because it was researching "gun violence" and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is so underfunded that it can't properly do its job.

  •  Not the best example, I think (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1, kurt, retLT

    While I think that reducing the availability of military grade guns is the problem we need to solve, I don't think that this applies to the Fort Hood case, mostly because:

    1. The military does a better job at gun control than most other institutions, and this was an army base.  I don't have a link to the diary in question, but very often in the military, you are either issued limited numbers of rounds, or a "safer" weapon if you are not likely to need more firepower (say, when you are in an area where the biggest risk is shooting somebody accidentally).  Unlike the NRA, the US military isn't stupid about guns or the damage they can do.
    2. The shooter in this case was probably not mentally ill as we usually understand these things -- what he did was a political act as near as I understand.

    Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

    by mbayrob on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:31:58 PM PST

    •  In my mind (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      killing innocent people is the very definition of mental illness .

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:49:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In his mind those people weren't innocent. (0+ / 0-)

        That's what a political act means.  The shooter believes his targets are the enemy and deserve death.

        Somebody shooting an abortion doctor because he believes abortion is murder and he's just defending future babies against a murderer isn't mentally ill.  He just has a worldview that is kind of awful by my own standards of morality.   Within his own beliefs, his actions are appropriate and consistent with observed reality.  His decision to shoot is based on three facts that are objectively true:

        The Doc HAS performed abortions in the past
        The Doc WILL perform abortions in the future
        Therefore shooting him will prevent fetus death in the future. (and to this shooter fetus = child, so he's defending kids by shooting this "mass-murderer")

        The Fort Hood guy was operating under a similar mindset, near as anyone can tell.  American soldiers ARE in foreign countries and they ARE killing muslims (fellow soldiers and innocents alike).    Therefore killing American Soldiers is justified...it's revenge for the other killings being done by soldiers he can't reach.

        Once he identified with the other side of the "war on terror" and was also willing to die to strike a blow...his actions are logical and rational.  (objectively, he gave his life to kill more than ten times his numbers in enemy soldiers.  When people do this in a pitched battle, we give them medals.   When partisans did similar acts in WWII against Nazi occupiers, we consider them heroic. )

        People who bought into the Nazi ideology thought they were doing the sensible thing in the extermination camps too.   They weren't, as a rule, mentally ill.  They were indoctrinated.  The men, women, children they were killing weren't people to them.  

        The Sandy Hill shooter is different to the extent that it is pretty much impossible for a normal person to imagine what the point of killing a bunch of children was for him.   His mom, sure, lots of people kill close family, there are a lot of emotions there and a lifetime of history.  That's comprehensible and maybe, just possibly, if we knew all the facts, even justifiable.   But to head to an elementary school, filled with strangers, and shoot up children?    What possible motivation could there be for that?

        We can't imagine it unless we postulate that he's perceiving and reacting his world objectively differently than most other people.  We know enough about this guy that we know he probably wasn't indoctrinated with any idea that the children were a legitimate threat to be eliminated at all costs.   So what he did makes no sense at all, except, obviously by the result, inside his own head.  That is what we call it mentally ill....if you postulate he was acting on a reality we don't understand inside his head...or evil...if you assume he got some kind of thrill out of killing them that was worth his own life (and don't label that kind of drive a mental illness)

        •  "even justifiable" ? (0+ / 0-)

          What could possibly justify the murder of his mother ?

          In his mind those people weren't innocent.
          If he is so mentally screwed up that he can't tell ...

          Sorry I reject your explanation .  

          "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

          by indycam on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:30:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Abuse (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not saying there was abuse.  What little we know doesn't seem to indicate that.

            But pretend for a moment there was abuse. Physical or mental, sexual, whatever you can imagine that would justify shooting your mom.

            We don't normally condemn the victims of incest/rape or battering when they turn on their abuser, even if they do so while the abuser is asleep.  (we may arrest them etc, but there is always some sympathy for them).

            So it is remotely possible that act could have been justifiable, if that was the only thing that occurred.

            Hatting up and shooting up an elementary school though is incomprehensible.    Which greatly increases the odds that the shooting of the mom wasn't justified either and was the product of something not right in the head of the shooter.

            •  So as far as you know , (0+ / 0-)

              all the people he killed were innocents ?  

              Hatting up
              ???

              "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

              by indycam on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:38:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  As far as I know they're innocent (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                myboo

                and I can't imagine a scenario where the shooter would see the teachers or children as an enemy, a legitimate target to kill that would be worth his own life (except possible his mother, and that would require a lot of bad acting on her part that there is no evidence of)

                This is in contrast to what was done at Fort Hood, where the shooter clearly had identified the US soldiers shot there as the "enemy", worth dying if he could take a bunch of them with him as he died.    The Fort Hood behavior is comprehensible...people all over the world, in all times and places, have done such actions against people they saw as "oppressors" or people they felt they had a legitimate vendetta against.   My own moral code doesn't condone vendetta, and the way I'd fight a war if I saw myself as a soldier wouldn't involve self-destruction.   But it's a common enough human action to not really count as mentally ill.  It's as strange to me as protesters who set themselves on fire to shame their society.  I would never do that, but it sure as hell worked that way once in Tunisia.

                "hatting up" is slang for what he did (strapping on weapons and heading in to start shooting).  It's a reference that goes back to cowboy movies, where the gunfighter would put on and adjust his hat before steeling himself to go out and do battle.

      •  Sane people doing insane things (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gramofsam1

        War, in many of its forms, is undertaken by people who are seen as psychiatrically sane.

        It's my firm reading of the last 100 years of history that sane people in persuit of the wrong goals are capable of any sort of outrage.  Calling many of those people insane ignores their responsibility for what they choose to do.

        While the killings in CT were an act of evil, in contrast I don't think the shooter was making a moral choice.  Which is just another way of saying he wasn't sane when he did it.

        Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

        by mbayrob on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 08:25:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I so agree with this: (0+ / 0-)

          "It's my firm reading of the last 100 years of history that sane people in persuit of the wrong goals are capable of any sort of outrage.  Calling many of those people insane ignores their responsibility for what they choose to do."

          To believe otherwise one would have to conclude that some epidemic of mental illness took hold in Germany in the 30's and 40's- to cite but one example.

    •  The DoD characterizes it as Workplace Violence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MadGeorgiaDem, worldlotus

      The shooter was investigated by the FBI and yet there was no intervention. I don't know all of the facts but it does demonstrate the difficulty in assessing & determining the risk level of an individual exhibiting and expressing violent tendencies.

  •  Great point of reference (6+ / 0-)

    We have to recognize that the profitable industry is playing both ends against the middle. They are making money off firearms, and making money off the fear of death by firearms, and they are making money of the nostalgia of firearms.

    The armed guards, base police, base security systems, and trained servicemen were unable to prevent this massacre and I can't believe that any rational thinking human being would believe that police on campus, armed teachers, and security systems can or will prevent the next rampage of a mentally ill person with access to guns that assaults people at a school; or a mall; or a theater; or any other place where people gather.
    All they way around the firearms/security industry is making money. Selling weapons to civilians, selling weapons to police, selling alarms and protective systems to schools and businesses, selling body armor to police, selling body armor to parents to ship to their sons and daughters in Iraq. All the way around, there are powerful interests profiting off of crime and the consequences of crime, off accidents, and off our collective failure to come to terms with urgent public health needs.
  •  I work on a military base as DOD police officer. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davespicer, kurt, matx, worldlotus

    Most shootings happen very quickly and there is little that can be done to avert some level of casualties. Such has been the case at Fort Hood and Fort Bragg. The base where I work has less than 10 police officers dealing with 35,000-40,0000 residents and calls spanning over 100 square miles. Fort Hood, Fort Bragg and Fort Stewart are considerably larger.

    Another misconception is that many military personnel carry loaded weapons around on base. They do not. In the case of the Fort Hood shooting it was up to the military and civilian police to stop Major Hassan. Because most shootings happen very quickly, the notion that an armed public could stop them more quickly is nonsense.

    All that said, I agree with the diarist that mental health intervention and treatment is part of the key to bringing some of this violence to an end.  We also have to discuss regulating access to guns and weapons capacity. Unfortunately, the latter will be a tough uphill battle as long as the politicians fear the NRA more than they do the majority of voters and as long as we cling to the archaic language of the 2nd Amendment.

    Guns are never the principle in the commission of a crime, but they are usually an accomplice

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 06:43:45 PM PST

    •  We need a comprehensive approach that includes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MadGeorgiaDem, worldlotus

      mental health care, treatment, and when required, full time residential care.

      I agree with you and suggest that we could look at the merits of regulating:

      the number of rounds a magazine can hold, the number of magazines a person can have in their possession & the amount of ammunition although enforcement would be difficult and by definition enforcement could only occur after the violation was discovered;

      Ownership eligibility; and

      Securing privately owned guns so that unauthorized people can't access them and/or use them.

      I would also suggest that psychiatrists, psychologist and family counselors be required to report patients who are a threat to themselves or others to the local police and maybe even the Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms agency to place a temporary and where necessary a permanent hold on gun purchases.

      This may be an uphill battle but there should be reasonable measures that elected officials can take to protect and serve the public.

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