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Daniel Ruth

Tampa's one-man armory

First, a confession. As someone who is more accident-prone than Inspector Clouseau, the thought of ever owning a gun always has seemed problematic, the equivalent of walking into a biker bar filled with testy Hell's Angels and trying to order a creme de menthe grasshopper. • No good would come from this. • Admittedly, America's gun-centric culture eludes me. I do understand the Second Amendment certainly permits the ownership of weapons. But especially after Saturday's events in Tucson involving the shooting of Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, what I cannot grasp is the need for so many guns in so many hands.

Consider the story of Scott Allen Bennett, who if he simply had been content to find himself a traditional apartment somewhere in Tampa, would possibly not be in the pickle he has found himself.

It is probably not a good idea to have one too many cocktails and then attempt to drive onto MacDill Air Force Base. It is also likely ill advised to have a secret private arsenal while you also are improperly residing on one of the most sensitive military installations in the world.

The folks with badges can get real irritated about this kind of thing.

As a private-sector military contractor, Bennett had credentials to enter MacDill. But Bennett, according to federal prosecutors, wasn't entitled to military housing on the base, which he had been given after telling MacDill officials he was an active-duty Army reservist assigned to do stuff for the U.S. Central Command.

It's altogether possible Bennett might still be living the lush life in one of MacDill's palatial military abodes if only he had not been stopped for a random vehicle check at the base's Dale Mabry gate.

MacDill security officers discovered two knives and an empty holster. Suspicions were aroused.

Soon Tampa police officers arrived to arrest Bennett for driving under the influence, only to discover their catch was carrying a concealed, loaded handgun. The cops also found another loaded handgun, three more knives, a box of throwing stars, a machete, a collapsible baton, a slingshot with BBs — and a can of Mace.

You might say Bennett had an obsessive-compulsive issue with security.

As if things already were not looking good for the Bennett, the cops then went to his base residence, where they discovered seven more loaded weapons, brass knuckles, a stun gun (in case the Mace didn't work?) another baton and — 9,389 bullets.

It's not as if MacDill needs more firepower.

It's just a wild guess, but it would seem Bennett likes guns. He most certainly doesn't seem to have to worry about running out of bullets.

Bennett has been charged by the feds for making a false statement regarding his military status to obtain housing, as well as violating Defense Department property security regulations.

Or put another way, Bennett isn't in trouble for having so much weaponry in his possession he makes Rambo look like a school crossing guard. He's in trouble for not registering the guns, the knives, the Mace, the throwing stars, the baton, the brass knuckles, the slingshot, the BBs, the machete, the stun gun and 9,389 bullets with the base's armory as required by military regulations.

An idle question. Suppose Bennett had complied with the regulations and formally informed MacDill security his Luca Brasi starter kit had so many items that can kill and maim people his residence looked like something out of Kill Bill.

Would the military brass have simply shrugged it off? Or would they have recoiled in horror at the thought of having Dirty Harry hanging around Central Command?

Maybe the MacDill folks have to know about all this paraphernalia in case they needed to borrow a spare throwing star from Bennett.

To be sure, it's a bit vexing that Bennett apparently was able to bring such a large cache of weaponry onto the grounds of MacDill unbeknownst to security personnel until the contractor was randomly stopped and charged with DUI.

Second Amendment considerations notwithstanding, rationally why would anyone feel compelled to come off as a one-man A-Team with so many guns and assorted weaponry from brass knuckles, to throwing stars, to stun guns? And let's not forget the 9,389 bullets.

Why would anyone have any practical use for so many guns? As for the brass knuckles, well maybe we don't really want to know.

Or perhaps Bennett requires all those bullets because he is an international man of mystery. If so, the next time he orders something shaken and not stirred, it better be iced tea.

Fewer complications.

Tampa's one-man armory 01/11/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 6:52pm]
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