Why Does The Military Ban Soldiers From Carrying Guns?

Community

Lost in the recent tragedies and in the debate about gun control is the reality that military bases within the United States have the strictest gun control of anywhere in the country.


This sentiment was captured well in a letter written by a U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant who survived the recent shootings at Fort Hood that left three dead and dozens injured.

“When the first shots rang out, my hand reached to my belt for something that wasn’t there,” writes 1st Lt. Patrick Cook, who was trapped in a room that the shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez, tried to gain access to. Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson was killed keeping Lopez out of that room.

Cook goes on: “Stripped of my God-given Right to arm myself, the only defensive posture I had left was to lie prostrate on the ground, and wait to die.”

No one is allowed to have a concealed carry permit on a military installation, the military doesn't even issue them. Weapons must be registered on base and either kept in the home or stored in the base armory. Generally, service members who live in military barracks are not allowed to keep weapons in their room at all.

The rules are guided by a 1993 Pentagon regulation that dictates that weapons on military bases are only allowed to be carried for official purposes like law enforcement or sentry duty, prohibiting “the carrying of non-Government owned or issued weapons or ammunition.”

But banning the right of Americans to concealed carry has been deemed unconstitutional. Late last year, the 7th Circuit Court of appeals struck down a ban on concealed carrying in Illinois.

Judge Richard Posner wrote in the court’s majority opinion that  "The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense."

The discourse about joining the military often carries the sentiment that in doing so, service members sign away their constitutional rights. This isn't true. The Uniformed Code of Military Justice is absolutely bound by the confines of the constitution, and in certain cases, service members have successfully challenged the constitutionality of their treatment in federal court.

In his first statement to the public after the most recent shooting at Fort Hood, the commander there, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, dismissed questions about whether troops should carry guns on base.

“We shouldn't have concealed weapons on base,” he said. “We have law enforcement agents, with trained professionals, and I don't want to endorse carrying concealed weapons base.”

But there are also police in the civilian world, and the existence of law enforcement has never served as a viable argument to limit the right of Americans to keep and bear arms in the civilian sector.

So why does it in the military, where virtually everyone has training in using a firearm, knowledge of the principles of weapons safety, and many have practical experience in combat that outpaces most civilian law enforcement?

With last week’s shooting at Fort Hood, perhaps it’s time for the Pentagon to reconsider this stance.

As Cook writes: “At the point blank range at which this shooting occurred, anyone with an M9 and some basic instruction could have ended the mayhem as quickly as it began.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official's biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica.

Read More Show Less
Saturday Night Live/screenshot

President Donald Trump said that "retribution" should be "looked into" after this week's opening skit of Saturday Night Live featured Alec Baldwin being mean to him again.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. John Eller conducts pre-flights check on his C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 3 prior to taking off from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a local area training mission. Sgt. Eller is a loadmaster from the 535th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

CUCUTA, Colombia — The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure Saturday on beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, dispatching U.S. military planes filled with humanitarian aid to this city on the Venezuelan border.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

Read More Show Less
A pair of U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat aircraft from Fighter Squadron VF-211 Fighting Checkmates in flight over Iraq in 2003/Department of Defense

Since the sequel to the 1986 action flick (and wildly successful Navy recruitment tool) Top Gun, was announced, there's been a lot of speculation on what Top Gun: Maverick will be about when it premieres in June 2020. While the plot is still relatively unclear, we know Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Naval aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and he'll be joined by a recognizable costar: The iconic F-14 Tomcat.

It looks like the old war plane will be coming out of retirement for more than just a cameo. A number of recently surfaced photos show an F-14 Tomcat aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, alongside Cruise and members of the film's production crew, the Drive's Tyler Rogoway first reported earlier this week.

Read More Show Less