As the old saying goes, better late than never.
Military Times reported earlier this week that U.S. military personnel can now apply to carry a private firearm for personal protection at government facilities.
The decision comes in the wake of several high-profile shootings on military bases over the last seven years, including one in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 people dead. The day of the shooting, Nidal Hasan, then an Army major and psychiatrist, entered the Fort Hood deployment center carrying two pistols, jumped on a desk and shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great” — then opened fire, according to TaskandPurpose.com.
Lawmakers scrutinized the U.S. government policy against allowing service members to carry concealed weapons on military bases. The new directive will hopefully deter the kind of lone-wolf attacks like the one in Fort Hood.
Service members have always been allowed to carry firearms as a part of their job responsibilities, but the new directive permits concealed carry “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties.”
The approval process will be handled by each individual military service, but the officials must have a minimum rank of lieutenant colonel, commander, or the civilian equivalent to approve requests.
Service members must be at least 21 years old and meet all federal, state, and local laws and host-nation requirements to carry a concealed firearm on Defense Department property.
“Written permission will be valid for 90 days or as long as the DoD Component deems appropriate and will include information necessary to facilitate the carrying of the firearm on DoD property consistent with safety and security, such as the individual’s name, duration of the permission to carry, type of firearm, etc.,” according to the document.
The new policy also clarifies the ability of commanders to arm military recruiters while performing their official duties.
“Commanders have always had that authority to arm recruiters,” Army Maj. Jamie Davis told Military Times on Monday. “Some of the wording wasn’t very clear, so they’ve gone through and cleaned it up so it is very clear now that the commanders have that authority to use at their discretion.”
In April 2014, another attack at Fort Hood took the lives of three soldiers and wounded 12 others. The shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez-Lopez, took his own life in the subsequent confrontation with military police.
Two additional attacks in July 2015 — one on a recruiting station and one on a Navy reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee — provided the final motivations for the new concealed carry policy.
The directive will take effect on Nov. 18 and does not apply does not apply to troops in war zones or members of the National Guard who are not working in a federal status.