Mullen: More guns on bases not the answer

A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued Sunday against calls to relax gun restrictions on the nation’s military bases in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting spree at Fort Hood.

During an appearance on NBC’s "Meet the Press," retired Adm. Michael Mullen said security protocols must be revisited in light of the rampage, but that he opposes “routinely allowing arms on any military base in the country.”

“I’m not one…that would argue for arming anybody that’s on base,” he said. “I think that actually invites much more difficult challenges.”

His remarks follow calls from a key congressional Republican to dial back limits on guns at military installations.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said “enlisted men that you can trust” should be allowed to carry weapons as a way to prevent shootings.

“That would be a deterrent, number one, and number two, a way to have a quick response to any shooter,” McCaul said earlier on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mullen, who served under President Obama and former President George W. Bush, countered that the best way to attack that problem is an increased focus on the mental issued that lead to violence involving veterans.

Spc. Ivan Lopez, who killed three people and injured 16 at Fort Hood before turning his gun on himself, had reportedly been evaluated for PTSD and was grieving over the deaths of his mother and grandfather.

It was unclear whether pre-existing mental issues played a role in the shooting, which investigators say was set off by a dispute over paperwork. Still, Mullen predicted such episodes would only increase in frequency as more troops returned from overseas.

“It’s a time of great stress for our military,” he said, noting that the U.S. has spent well over a decade at war. “We’ve been through a lot.” 

“I think we need to do a lot more to try to understand the brain and how these injuries affect our young people who’ve done so much for our country," he said.