According to a new 26-page directive issued by the Pentagon on Friday, November 18, U.S. military personnel can now request to carry their privately owned, concealed firearms on American military bases. The effort for this measure began in 2009 following the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas where former Army Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. This move accelerated in July 2015 following the attacks on a recruiting station and a Navy reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that claimed the lives of four Marines and one sailor.
According to Military Times, the previous policy allowed some service members to carry weapons in the performance of their duties. Now, Department of Defense personnel “may request permission to carry privately owned firearms on DOD property for personal protection purposes that are not related,” according to the directive. The updated policy explains more clearly when troops can carry government-issued weapons as part of their official duty and when they may carry personal handguns for protection. The directive does not apply to troops in war zones or members of the National Guard who are not working under a federal status.
U.S. military personnel wishing to carry a firearm must be at least 21 years old and posses a valid concealed carry permit under federal, state or local laws where the DOD facility is located or meet any and all host-nation requirements. The individual military services will determine requirements for those who will grant conceal-carry requests, according to the directive. Military Times reported that those officials must have a minimum rank of lieutenant colonel, commander or the civilian equivalent.
According to the directive, authorized personnel who wish to carry privately owned firearms would also be “personally liable for the injuries, death, and property damage proximately caused by negligence in connection with the possession or use of privately owned firearms that are not within the scope of their federal employment.” Additionally, service members will not be permitted to carry a concealed handgun if they have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice “for any offense that calls into question the individual’s right to carry a firearm,” or if they’ve been convicted or faced charges in civilian courts.
The updated policy clearly explains that DOD personnel can be armed “when there is a general or specific threat of possible harm directed against them when that threat relates to the person’s official duties or status,” meaning that U.S. military troops at recruiting stations and reserve venters may be armed if their commanders approve them to be. The commanders determine what type of threat their recruiters face and what types of protective equipment they should be issued while on the job. Recruiters and other service members who are not security personnel are not permitted to bring firearms to an off-base location that is under the guard of police or security officers.