In the wake of Ft. Hood and the attack on the recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tenn., a new bill was proposed seeking to permit commanders to allow weapons to be carried on military bases and recruiting stations.
Defense legislation lawmakers agreed to this week would let commanders authorize troops to carry guns on military bases in the U.S.
The annual defense authorization bill calls for Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to establish a process by Dec. 31 in which commanders can authorize a service member at a military installation, reserve center, recruiting location or defense facility in the U.S. to carry a gun on the premises if he or she “determines that carrying such a firearm is necessary as a personal- or force-protection measures.”
The legislation — which President Obama plans to veto over an unrelated issue — comes just months after a four Marines and a sailor were shot and killed in a shooting at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was killed by police in a gunfight.
A fact-sheet released Tuesday by the House Armed Services Committee, headed by Rep. William “Mac” Thornberry, also referenced the June incident at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, where an armed man was shot and killed after crashing his SUV while trying to break into the installation; the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, in which 13 people were killed and more than 30 injured; and the 2014 shooting at Fort Hood, in which four people, including the gunman, were killed and 14 were injured.
“Tragic domestic attacks on DOD personnel, including those at Little Rock, Chattanooga, and Fort Hood, convinced Conferees that a one-size-fits-all force protection standard for domestic installations is inadequate, especially where carrying personal firearms is involved,” the document states.
“The NDAA makes clear that post commanders are empowered to permit a member of the Armed Forces to carry appropriate firearms, including personal firearms, at DOD installations, reserve centers, and recruiting centers,” it states. “The Secretary of Defense must implement a policy to so empower post commanders no later than December 31, 2015.”
Existing policy, which dates to 1992, states that arming service members beyond military police and those who work in law enforcement “shall be limited to missions or threats.”
Contrary to what many people think, military bases are great big “gun free zones.” The vast majority of military personnel on base are unarmed, except for a small number of security personnel.
That number is tragically small when a situation like Fort Hood rears its ugly head.