It seems a strange question – should service members be allowed to carry weapons to protect themselves? In light of the four marines and one navy service member killed in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga, the question has once again surfaced.
It is important to note that there are no laws which currently limit a service member from carrying a weapon while off base. Prior to 2011, commanders could limit the purchase, storage, carrying, and use of personally owned weapons when off base. They were able to require that off base residences have a gun safe, or to store weapons in the arms room. Under the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, President Obama restricted the commander’s ability to reduce a service member’s lawful ownership and use of a weapon off base.
On base has been a different story for quite some time. On February 25, 1992, Secretary of Defense Donald Atwood, under George H.W. Bush, introduced the Department of Defense directive number 5210.56 which stated that it is DOD policy to “limit and control the carrying of firearms by DOD military and civilian personnel. The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DOD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried.” This is entirely different from restricting their use on base. This leaves the ability to issue weapons to the installation commander.
Weapons which are authorized on base must be registered through proper channels prior to bringing them on the installation. While service members living in on-base housing and the barracks may own personal weapons, the storage for them is different. A service member or spouse may store a personally owned weapon in their on base housing as long as it is registered on base. A service member living in the barracks must store their weapon in the unit arms room and can access it via coordination to open the arms room. Concealed carry permits are not recognized on military installations and service members must remember to follow all state and federal laws when transporting weapons onto and off of the installation.
When Congressional leaders are discussing whether or not service members should be authorized to carry weapons, what they should be doing is discussing the criteria by which it is reasonable to believe that their lives will be jeopardized. A military installation is guarded by civilian and military security forces, multiple check points and roving patrols. A strip mall recruiting center is protected by nothing more than glass windows and a door lock.
Based on the recent attack, it is incredibly sad to see that service members were gunned down in violence without the ability to defend themselves. While the police did respond, even they were not enough to stop the attack until it had claimed the lives of still more service members seven miles away. The question is not whether or not service members are able to protect themselves, it is about whether service members on official duty off base deserve the right to carry their issued weapon to defend themselves or others. The answer is simple – yes.
The outcome is not nearly so simple. It is invariable that accidents will then happen. It took only one day for a US Navy recruiter to accidently shoot himself in the leg after the incident. Service members are unlikely to sit idly by while crimes are committed nearby as well. The question becomes much more complex when one realizes that arming service members for protection may lead to a series of unintended consequences. Even with that said though, if a service member meets the criteria for military service, and demonstrates the maturity to go to war in service of their country, it should go without saying that allowing a service member to be armed to defend themselves is a no brainer.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.