At the Gate

ColumnLogo-1L. Neil Smith

There’s an old Air Force fable, possibly apocryphal, that my dad loved to tell, about a young Air Policeman, standing duty at the entrance to his Strategic Air Command base when a military jeep came blasting through the gate. He hesitated only for a moment, then fired a shot at the jeep from his 1911A1 pistol or his M-1 Carbine.


The jeep, by now 100 yards inside the base, slammed to a halt, then backed up to the gate. The sergeant was afraid he was in trouble for firing on the jeep. But out stepped General Curtis E, Lemay, leader of Strategic Air Command, and ripped a stripe off of the Air Policeman’s uniform. “That’s for missing!” growled Gen. Lemay.

It’s a great story, but it never could have taken place on any Air Force base that I grew up on or near. In the 1950s, Air Police were issued Colt .45s, right enough, but they were required to carry the magazine in an odd little crevice between the holster and the belt. By the 1960s, when public relations were the statist priority of the day, they were issued ridiculous, puny .38 revolvers and no ammunition at all.

Now allow me to present you with two conficting principles, and see what we can do with them. The first is that a soldier is a man who has a gun. In fact, that’s roughly 90% of the basic definition of a soldier.

The equal but opposite principle is that today, the military will do anything, absolutely anything, to keep guns and ammunition out of the hands of its supposedly military personnel. Privately owned firearms must be registered with the Provost Marshall and locked up on base. Guards are kept gunless or simply issued empty guns, In 1979, the Marines guarding the Tehran embassy were required to store their M-16s in a diplomatically unprotected building across the street. There wasn’t even any mention that I heard of where the Military Police were at Fort Hood when that evil Islamoshrink shot so many people with his .357 Dan Wesson revolver and and his Flash Gordon FNH .22.

Ironically, I learned to “aim small, miss small” at Pepperrell Air Force Base, in a cozy basement shooting range, in a competition program sponsored by the National Rifle Association and Boy Scouts of America.

One reason, of course, for military gun-free killing zones is the dire need the Pentagon experienced during the 1960s for conscriptees — for which read military slaves — during its insane and vile War in Vietnam. Almost any scum were gratefully-accepted. Civilian judges regulary sentenced car thieves and other such criminals with “go to jail or join the Army”. Would you really like to issue guns to society’s dregs like that? My dad, who ran Vehicle Maintenance Departments in Newfoundland and in Florida, was always having to get his younger men out of jail on various charges. Sometimes, in Florida, it was simply because the Sheriff’s deputies were moronic redneck thugs and many of Dad’s men were black. The uniform made them “uppity.” Sometimes it resembled the Jerry Springer show; one of his Airmen got his wife and mother-in-law pregnant simultaneously.

They say incest is a game the whole family can enjoy.

As a teenager, I was taught to throw a knife and an axe to good effect by a youngish Lieutenant Colonel in the First Air Commando Group who’d remarkably earned his Master’s degree in Anthropology by making and learning to use primitive weapons. He spent his spare time in Vietnam teaching airplane mechanics on the maintenance line to throw a two-foot screwdriver like a knife whenever the Viet Cong came marauding around. But when your enemy is armed with an AK-47 and half a dozen hand grenades, a screwdriver must seem like a pretty frail reed. If possible, it’s even worse than bringing a knife to a gun fight.

So, am I saying that Air Police and Military Police (and Shore Patrol) should be fully armed at all times? Not at all. I’m saying that frigging _everybody_ should be armed at all times. A soldier is a guy (or a gal) with a gun. You can’t have it two ways. An unarmed soldier is a joke — and potentially a corpse. Officers should wear their sidearms publicly and proudly; a democratic republic should issue equally-effective sidearms to all of its enlisted personnel as well.

Pentagon officials and other military bigwigs who oppose this principle, which would put an immediate stop to base-shootings like the one in Chattanooga in 2015 are criminally negligent. In the British Navy, during the Napoleonic Wars, they would have gotten hanged, and properly so. A big part of this problem is corruption or stupidity in high places. Shamefully, the United States government treats its active and former soldiers very badly and utterly without respect. The lower ranks are forced to go on welfare to feed their families, and seek food stamps. The sleazy, sloppy treatment they eceive in Veterans’ Administration hospitals closely resembles being sentenced to a Third World prison. Incompetent, uncaring doctors don’t listen to them and have to be argued into doing what is required of them.

Years ago, I prescribed, in an article for _Reason/Frontlines_ that the raw numbers of American military personnel be sharply reduced. It should become very difficult to join the military. Personnel should receive a tenfold raise in wages. Now I say, arm them, as well, and allow them to defend themselves as they defend our country.

If the last several ugly years, if the Paris and San Bernardino massacres, and a dozen other murderous crimes have taught nothing else to those with enough brains to learn, the only alternative is more death.


L. Neil Smith

Celebrated and award-winning author of over 30 books and countless shorter pieces, L. Neil Smith is available, at professional rates, to write articles and speeches for you or your organization, providing that our principles are compatible. Contact him at [email protected].


“Any official, appointed or elected, at any level of government, who attempts, through legislative act or other means, to nullify, evade, or avoid the provisions of the first ten amendments to this Constitution, or of the Thirteenth Amendment, shall be summarily removed from office, and, upon conviction, deprived of all pay and benefits including pension, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.”

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One Response to At the Gate

  1. William "Bill" Hicks March 10, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I’m from the 9th Infantry Riverines; BRAVO Company, better known as the famous Bushmasters.

    That said, I was stationed at Edgewood Arsenal Maryland for the last few weeks of my active duty. While there, Dr. King was assassinated. As a result, there was the Baltimore Race Riots of 1968. As a squad leader in Vietnam, I was selected to assemble a Guard for some of the stores in Baltimore. They gave us empty M-14’s, no magazines to even make it look like it could do anything, No helmets or flack jackets. And we were supposed to gaurd property by standing in front of stores.

    I refused to do it. My logic was that I lived through Vietnam and I’ll be damned if I’m going to die in Baltimore after surviving Vietnam. Fortunately, the Lieutenant, who had no combat experience, understood what I was saying and called it all off.


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