After Nidal Hasan killed 13 and wounded more than 30 in November 2009, John R. Lott wrote about one of the craziest policies to come out of the Clinton era: making military bases “gun free zones.”

Yes, that’s correct. In 1993, President Bill Clinton decreed that US military personnel were to surrender the Second Amendment rights that they swear an oath to support and defend. Lott, writing in 2009, called for that policy to be ended.

Shouldn’t an army base be the last place where a terrorist should be able to shoot at people uninterrupted for 10 minutes? After all, an army base is filled with soldiers who carry guns, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Beginning in March 1993, under the Clinton administration, the army forbids military personnel from carrying their own personal firearms and mandates that “a credible and specific threat against [Department of the Army] personnel [exist] in that region” before military personnel “may be authorized to carry firearms for personal protection.” Indeed, most military bases have relatively few military police as they are in heavy demand to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unarmed soldiers could do little more than cower as Major Nidal Malik Hasan stood on a desk and shot down into the cubicles in which his victims were trapped. Some behaved heroically, such as private first class Marquest Smith who repeatedly risked his life removing five soldiers and a civilian from the carnage. But, being unarmed, these soldiers were unable to stop Hasan’s attack.

The wife of one of the soldiers shot at Ft. Hood understood this all too well. Mandy Foster’s husband had been shot but was fortunate enough not to be seriously injured. In an interview on CNN on Monday night, Mrs. Foster was asked by anchor John Roberts how she felt about her husband “still scheduled for deployment in January” to Afghanistan. Ms. Foster responded: “At least he’s safe there and he can fire back, right?” — It is hard to believe that we don’t trust soldiers with guns on an army base when we trust these very same men in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, most of CNN’s listeners probably didn’t understand the rules that Ms. Foster was referring to.

We still do not know the motive behind today’s killings. That hasn’t stopped the likes of Andrew Kaczinsky at BuzzFeed from attacking the National Rifle Association, which has no known connection to the Navy Yard shootings at all. Gun free zones do have a tangible connection to these mass shootings. Killers are surely aware that once they transport a firearm onto a stateside US military base, they’re facing unarmed patriots who have been deprived of the means to defend themselves.