NBC’s Jacobs: Military Offices Are ‘Vulnerable,’ ‘Not Armed,’ Can’t Protect Selves

UPDATE: On MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” later in the day Jacobs said that he didn’t think arming people at military offices was a “good idea as a general principle,” although he wasn’t “adverse” to the idea of military people being armed. He argued that in this circumstance it would have been “absolutely impossible” for those inside the office to defend themselves given how close the shooter was.

NBC Military Analyst Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.) said that military offices like the ones attacked in Chattanooga are “vulnerable” because of lack of security and because the people inside are “not armed” and if you work in one, you’re “not able really to protect yourself” on Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Cycle.”

Jacobs said of the shooting in Chattanooga, TN, “there’s a great difference between the situation that happened today, and on an installation like the Navy Yard or Ft. Hood. It’s much more difficult to get into a secure military installation. There are fences all around. There are guards at the gates. Many of these places do a 100% ID check. They also inspect vehicles, make them open their trunk, and so on. It doesn’t make it impossible for people to get on with weapons, but it makes it extremely difficult. Here you have a store front. It’s in a shopping mall. The military people are not armed. They’re on desks, just on the other side of the plate glass that the shooter shot through. So, I mean those people who are out in the community are especially vulnerable. They sometimes — if you talk to police, for example, who are at the cutting edge, at the pointy end of the spear, who in the communities, doing policing, they have the same sort of risk as we saw the military people today. They’re not behind barb wire. There aren’t people on the gates checking people in to see whether or not they’re armed and so on. So, that’s the first thing. it’s extremely difficult — there’s a sense that you’re at the front of the line, but that you’re not being — you’re not able really to protect yourself. And at the end of the day, that’s their business. Their business is to be in the community.”

Jacobs continued, “The second thing that’s of interest here, that was not spoken about at any great length in the briefing that we saw, and which will come clear over a longer period of time, when they get all their information together is the nature of the weapon. And we chatted about it a little bit. He had — it struck me that he had multiple weapons. It’s not surprising, but I hadn’t thought about that. But what was really interesting about the weapon, is that though we don’t know, it sure sounded like it was an automatic weapon. Now, semi-automatic rifles are legal. Pistols are legal. In most places if not all places, you have to get a license before you can actually buy them, and a lot of places you have to make application just to get ammunition. All that notwithstanding, if he had rapid-fire weapons and was firing 25 to 30 rounds at a time, it may very well be that he had a fully automatic weapon. Now, fully automatic weapons, machine guns, assault weapons that are capable of firing on full automatic, are illegal everywhere. It is not rocket science, you don’t have to be a gunsmith to change a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic rifle. But in any case, because of the nature of the crime, he went to two separate places, he had a lot of weapons, it certainly indicated that he had a lot of planning that went this. Including, perhaps even, changing this particular weapon from a semi-automatic weapon to a fully automatic weapon and having the kind of magazine, a magazine holds as many as 30 rounds, and is capable of firing 30 rounds in just a few seconds, indicated that he had a — a great deal of planning went into this assault.”

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