Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said allowing people to bring weapons onto a base such as Fort Hood should be looked into, but he said officers would have to weigh in on whether it would “interfere with discipline.”
“First, I think we should look into increasing security both at checkpoints and also at, you know, is more security needed within the base itself. As far as carrying weapons, I think we should look at that. But I remember just from my days in the Army, there’s a certain element of discipline involved, people living in close quarters. You have a situation where in the barracks on a Saturday night you may have arguments, fights, whatever,” King told CNN this morning.
“And I just — I would like to talk to the sergeants, the NCOs, the officers and people on the ground to see if they feel that would interfere with the discipline that they need, with the control they need,” he said, adding, “I mean, if you have such a large base and people can walk in apparently with weapons, should those on the base be allowed to defend themselves?”
“But before we go that far, I would really want to look at it. Again, I’m just going back, because this was a long time ago, but just on base, I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable if the guy in the bunk next to me had a gun and we just had an argument or a discussion.”
King continued that “NCOs and sergeants, they have to be pretty tough on their troops at times.”
“Again, do they want those men and women to be having weapons with them at night after something like that occurs? But again, to me, it’s something we have to look at. We have to open it up. This has to be reopened because there’s all the factors I just gave which could be negative. On the other hand, if someone had had a weapon yesterday, you know, they could have stopped this perhaps, you know, right away. So, but, again, we have to open it up and look at it, yes,” he said.
The congressman stressed that “terrorism has not been ruled out” in the killing of three service members and wounding of 16 by Army truck driver Ivan Lopez.
“Right now there are no indications of terrorism. But I can tell you that all avenues are being explored,” he said. “…We should still be very concerned about terrorism. Fort Hood was attacked once before and there was an attempted attack in July of 2011 that was stopped.”
The mental illness component, though, is “very significant.”
“I think we have to do better screening as far as psychological testing. We have to make sure that the people on the ground, the platoon sergeants, the company commanders, that they are watching very carefully for any signs of mental illness or any type of psychological disturbance, any cases of anger management,” King said. “…In the military, we are getting more money appropriated for more programs for mental health, suicide prevention, for PTSD. That is being done. But not enough. I think much more has to be done. We also have the issue of the National Guard and Reservists who don’t get the same level of treatment as far as mental health that the regular Army does. So that has to be increased.”