A Much-Needed Policy Change

Approximately seven years ago, Major Nidal Hasan killed thirteen people and wounded more than thirty others at Fort Hood, Texas. Because our military was banned from carrying their weapons at government facilities, none of the soldiers at the base were armed. That situation rule has now changed.

On Monday, The Military Times reported:

U.S. military personnel can now request to carry concealed handguns for protection at government facilities, according to new Defense Department directive issued last week in response to a series of deadly shootings over the last seven years.

While service members already were authorized to carry weapons as part of specific job responsibilities, the new policy allows them to apply to carry their privately owned firearms “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties,” the directive says.

It also clarifies when military recruiters can be armed, said Army Maj. Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman.

“Commanders have always had that authority to arm recruiters,” 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.”

Effective Nov. 18, the directive culminates years of work, Davis said.

There are some procedures that have to be followed in order to legally carry a handgun on Defense Department property:

Those wishing to carry a concealed personal firearm on Defense Department property must apply for permission. They have to be at least 21 years old and meet all federal, state and local laws and host-nation requirements the directive says.

The individual military services will determine requirements for those who will grant conceal-carry requests, the directive says. Those officials must have a minimum rank of lieutenant colonel, commander or the civilian equivalent.

“These authorizations will be for a maximum of 90-calendar-day increments and may be renewed for as long as the threat or circumstance necessitating arming exists,” according to the directive.

This policy change is overdue. Until this policy went into effect, military bases and recruiting stations were soft targets. Now the military personnel at those places will be able to defend themselves if necessary. Terrorists are less likely to attack a target if they know it will be defended.