WASHINGTON — President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will visit Fort Hood on Wednesday to pay respect to the victims of last week’s shooting tragedy at the Texas military installation, a senior White House official announced Sunday.
“It’s a terrible tragedy what happened at Fort Hood,” senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said during an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation. “The president and first lady send their thoughts and prayers out to the victims and families and everyone on the base, and they’re going to actually travel down on Wednesday to the memorial ceremony.”
The Obamas were already scheduled to begin a two-day trip to Texas on Wednesday to take part in Democratic campaign fundraisers in Houston. On Thursday, they are both scheduled to travel to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, where the president is to deliver remarks at a civil rights summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.
Obama visited Fort Hood in November 2009 under similar circumstances following the shooting rampage by a Muslim Army officer that left 13 dead and injured 30 more. Maj. Nidal Hasan was convicted in August of those killings, which occurred after Hasan had communicated via e-mail with a radical Muslim cleric living in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, repeated on Sunday that the latest incident at Fort Hood — in which three soldiers were killed before the gunman, Spc. Ivan Lopez, killed himself — underscores the need for military personnel to be allowed to carry concealed weapons on base.
“We should be looking at the idea of senior leadership at these bases, give them the ability to carry a weapon,” said McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee on Fox News Sunday. “They defend us overseas and defend our freedom abroad, so the idea that they are defenseless when they come on our home bases, I think, Congress should be looking at that and having a discussion with the bases about what would be the best policy.”
Pfeiffer, however, suggested the White House wouldn’t support such legislation.
“The Pentagon has looked at proposals like the one Congressman McCaul has talked about,” Pfeiffer said. “They don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Meanwhile, dozens gathered in the Fort Hood community of Killeen, Texas, on Sunday to honor the victims of last week’s mass shooting.
Pastor Robert Sperbeck tried to comfort the congregation at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Killeen, saying most everyone is asking why a shooting like this would happen again.
Sperbeck said “the devil is the author of what happened,” but that “the way of God leads to the way of comfort.” The pastor added that God gives individuals choice, and that the shooter chose to follow darkness.