This week's fatal shooting at Fort Hood in Texas has two key senators questioning what should change on the nation's military bases to make similar events less likely - or at least less lethal.
"At the end of the day, military bases and those who serve in uniforms are going to be prime targets for terrorism," said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "Terrorists really want to do damage to those who are serving our country, and the stress level in the military is pretty high."
Graham said he questions if a 1992 Department of Defense rule that basically makes military bases gun-free zones except for military police should revised.
He made the point first Thursday during a Senate Armed Services Committee with the Army's top general, Ray Odierno. Politico.com reported that Graham didn't get the answer he was looking for.
"I believe that we have our military police and others that are armed, and I believe that's appropriate," Odierno said, according to the website. "That allows us the level of protection necessary."
Graham said Friday he likely caught Odierno off guard at the hearing, and he planned to call him to discuss the issue further.
"I'm not making this the wild-wild west but in general, after these two attacks, (including last September's fatal shooting at the Washington Navy Yard), we're going to have to expand our lines of defense," he said. "I really do believe the DOD regulation doesn't fit the times in which we live."
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who serves with Graham on the Armed Services Committee, said the Navy Yard shooter should have had his security clearance reviewed and revoked, but she said the military's policy of weapons on base also could be reviewed as part of a larger review of security procedures.
"I do think we have a responsibility to review the procedures that are in place to prevent insider threats," said Ayotte, R-N.H. "We look at this issue to make sure that when an incident does happen, our men and women in uniform are able to protect themselves or take down someone who is a shooter on base."
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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