A Marine takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Once he or she takes that oath, the Marine is willing to give his or her life for his country.

A Marine standing his post is representing the best of his nation. It does not matter whether that post is standing on an embassy wall in Saigon, the quarterdeck of a navy ship in Yemen, in the seat of an F-18 Hornet over Afghanistan,ina foxhole in Guadalcanal or at his desk in aMarine reserve training center in Chattanooga.

Of course, the Marines who serve in an overseas post, especially in a war zone, know that when they go to work that day, their lives are at risk and they could die in the service of their country. But when a Marine sergeant goes to his desk at a reserve training center to work training his fellow Marines, he does not expect to be killed that day. Nevertheless, when that Marine is targeted by a terrorist because he is a Marine or because he is in the U.S. military or simply because he represents the United States, that Marine has given his life for his country by standing his post. That Marine who was targeted for being a Marine and representing his country and who was killed while in the service of his nation is no less a hero and no less a casualty of war than any of his fellow Marines who were killed in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Marine barracks in Beirut, the skies over Iraq or the trenches of Belleau Wood.

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A Marine on the wall of an embassy or on the deck of a navy ship can be trusted to carry a weapon to defend his fellow Marines, other servicemen, U.S. citizens or U.S. property. A Marine flying an F-18 is trusted with enough weaponry to destroy several ships or a small city. But, in our modern society, one question remains: Why is it that a Marine at his post in a federal installation like a Marine reserve center cannot carry a rifle or handgun? He cannot even carry his own personal handgun, even if he has a permit to carry.

Whatever one’s stance on the Second Amendment and gun control, unless a person is such a pacifist that he believes in the complete disarmament of our military, all rational-thinking people would agree that if anyone should be allowed to carry a weapon, it should be a Marine at his post. If we as a society cannot trust a Marine at his post with a loaded weapon, then we as a society do not deserve to enjoy the freedom that Marines and other servicemen and -women have earned for us.

I do not know what would have happened yesterday in Chattanooga if the Marines at the Marine reserve center had access to firearms or could have been allowed to carry their personal weapons, but I strongly suspect that the outcome of events would have been dramatically different. I believe that, instead of four dead Marines, our nation would be celebrating the heroic reactions of Marines who took out a terrorist dumb enough to attack a Marine installation.

And our four Marine heroes would still be alive.

Eric Buchanan, former lieutenant, USNR, Chattanooga
Son of a lieutenant colonel, USMCR
Great-nephew and godson of a major general, USMC

The opinions expressed in this op-ed belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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