Naval Pilots Now Demanding the Right to Be Armed on Base After Deadly Attack in Pensacola

FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson, File)

FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson, File)

In the wake of the terrorist shooting at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola by a Saudi flight student on December 6, killing three and shooting several others before being shot by a sheriff’s deputy, many unfamiliar with the military wondered how could the terrorist have been able to shoot so many people on a military base?

What they failed to understand was that the military members on base are not allowed to freely carry guns, that military bases are largely “gun-free” zones.

According to Fox 10, there have been 15 fatal military base shootings since 2009.

From Fox 10:

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the pro-gun Second Amendment Foundation, blamed the repeated gun attacks on gun-free policies.

“It really does not work,” he told FOX10 News. “Again, what they’ve done is they’ve made our military bases so-called gun-free zones. And all they’ve really become is victim-disarmament zones, and people have no means of defending themselves. And it just doesn’t work. It’s proven it hasn’t worked. It’s really kind of a stupid policy. And I hope Congress changes it.”

Now, the people who just suffered so much in the recent attack are fighting back.

From Fox News:

Dozens of U.S. Navy pilots have written a letter demanding Capitol Hill lawmakers and top military brass allow more pilots to carry arms on bases, and allow those standing watch at flight schools across the country to be armed in the wake of the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi officer training there. [….]

“It is reprehensible that a military installation, much less its warfighters based there, be at the mercy of off-base, civilian law enforcement when faced with an immediate threat to their lives,” the letter says. The letter was sent to Fox News by two U.S. Navy instructor pilots from NAS Pensacola, in Florida, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with the press.

The pilots bashed a law from 1992 which they said caused military bases to become “soft targets” for attacks.

“On-base security is often provided by contracted civilians whose physical fitness requirements and specialized training fall far short of the standard servicemember’s,” according to the letter.

Some pilots say it is inexcusable that a weapons expert like one of the three shooting victims was killed while standing duty unarmed.

“ENS Joshua Kaleb Watson was a small-arms instructor and captain of the rifle team at the United States Naval Academy. Yet when charged with standing the watch, he was equipped with nothing more than a logbook and a pen,” the letter says.

Yet he did all he could and was able to convey to police where the terrorist was to help them before he died of his wounds. Imagine what he could have done if he was able to defend himself and others.

The pilots hope their effort “will discontinue what has become a severe irony burdening our servicemembers: that they can be entrusted to fly multimillion-dollar aircraft over hostile territory, command companies of infantrymen into battle, or captain ships around the world, all while holding the nation’s top security clearances, but when back home are not trusted to carry a simple pistol in order to protect themselves, their families and their fellow servicemembers.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said they would be looking into the issue.

Watson’s family appeared on “Fox and Friends” and urged the military and the Congress to do something to solve the problem.

“He was well qualified to have a firearm and defend himself. If we are going to ask these young men and women to stand watch for our country, they need the opportunity to defend themselves. This isn’t the first time this happened and if we don’t change something, then it won’t be the last,” said Adam Watson, Joshua’s brother. “My brother was an excellent marksman. If my brother had not had that right stripped from him, this would be a different conversation.”

Joshua’s mother, Sheila, agreed.

“He was my baby. It hurts me. It doesn’t really anger me as much as it hurts me. My baby was standing watch and he lost his life because he wasn’t armed,” she said.

“We trust 18-year-old privates in combat with grenades, anti-tank missiles, rifles and machine guns, but we let service members get slaughtered because we don’t trust anyone to be armed back here in the United States,” a senior U.S. Army officer told Fox News.

“Why are we cowering in our offices? It’s insane,” the officer added.

Amen. Let’s stop this so we can at least give our our fine young men like Ens. Joshua Watson the ability to fight back and protect his fellows.