Following last year’s deadly shootings at a Chattanooga, Tennessee recruiting center and reserve office, there was an outpouring of support to allow military members to carry concealed firearms while on duty. Despite the widespread support, and obvious need, little was done to address the situation – until now.
On Feb. 4 2016, the Virginia House of Delegates unanimously approved House Bill 90, which would allow National Guard members to carry concealed firearms while on duty. The bill, introduced by Delegate Scott Taylor, was in direct response to the Chattanooga incident and had been heralded as a common sense step in allowing service members to protect themselves in the same manner as any average citizen.
What Would Happen if the Bill is Passed?
If passed, the bill would:
- Allow National Guard members who already possess a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm while on duty or in uniform. This practice is currently prohibited by service regulations.
- Only apply to members of the Virginia National Guard when operating under state orders or drill status. Members of other service’s reserve components, or National Guard members under federal orders, would still be subject to individual service regulations; even attempting to bring a personal firearm onto an installation in your personal vehicle can get a soldier jammed up.
- Commanding Officers would retain the right to reasonably restrict the practice if doing so would interfere with the mission at hand or present a safety hazard. The bill does not specifically spell out when this prohibition could be enacted, but it would obviously cover training with other firearms when instructors need to control the presence of loaded weapons or certain physical activities when securing of the firearm might be an issue. Obviously, this is a weak point in the legislation, one which could cause obvious abuse on either side and would need to be addressed further.
So, where does it go from here? First, it needs to be voted on by the Senate. If the bill were to pass the Senate, I assume that the Virginia National Guard would also need to develop a set of policies before it could be fully enacted. Finally, I imagine the Department of Defense will attempt to block any implementation – as a whole the DOD has resisted any attempts to allow expanded carry of even military-issued firearms while stateside. Numerous officials have openly discussed their unwillingness to loosen current restrictions on the carrying of personal weapons by service members or even equipping a wider range of service members with service-issued sidearms.
Regardless of what the eventual outcome may be, House Bill 90 is a step in the right direction. Even if it eventually fails to become law, it will force all parties involved to face the fact that service members are always in danger of being targets – whether in the mountains of Afghanistan or a downtown recruiting station. Sooner or later, something needs to be done; at least Delegate Taylor has offered a solution.
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.