Byline: Emily Schmall
DALLAS -- After three mass shootings at military bases in the U.S. over the last five years, security experts say the sad truth is that there is probably no practical way of preventing members of the armed forces or civilian employees from carrying guns onto big installations like Fort Hood.
The kind of searches that would have prevented Army Spc. Ivan A. Lopez from driving onto Fort Hood with a pistol in his car and killing three fellow soldiers would paralyze access to a major post and create huge traffic jams among the tens of thousands of workers commuting to and from their jobs, officials and experts said.
''Trying to secure a base from guns is a very, very difficult proposition at best -- probably impossible,'' said Robert Taylor, who is head of the University of Texas-Dallas public affairs program and has been a security consultant for the Justice Department and police forces.
''You could do spot checks. You could have people walk through metal detectors,'' Taylor said. But searching so many people would create big practical difficulties, he said.
Dan Corbin, mayor of neighboring Killeen, said base workers would have to leave for their jobs four hours early just to get through the base's checkpoints if searches were instituted.
The security problem on large bases stems from their dual role as military installations and huge workplaces.
Fort Hood, one of the nation's largest Army posts, covers 340 square miles. More than 40,000 soldiers live on the post, and more than 80,000 military and civilian employees and contractors come daily from surrounding communities to work at offices, equipment facilities, training sites and businesses.
Though the post is ringed by fences with guard stations, it otherwise looks like a medium-size city with neighborhoods of single-family houses, schools, stores and restaurants.
Security was beefed up after the base's first mass shooting, in 2009, in which Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people. Security measures were...