The Department of Defense released an official directive last week to allow U.S. military personnel to request permission to carry concealed handguns for protection at government facilities.
The directive came in response to a series of deadly shootings at military sites in recent years. Domestic military bases need no longer be “gun-free zones,” a change the department has been working on for several years.
Service members already had the authority to carry weapons as part of specific job responsibilities, but the new policy would also allow them to carry privately owned firearms “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties,” the directive said, according to Military Times.
The directive was reportedly approved by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, according to International Business Times.
The directive also clarified when military recruiters could be armed, said Army Maj. Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman.
Commanders have always had authority to arm recruiters, but the language wasn’t straightforward, Davis explained.
“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,” Davis told Military Times on Monday.
The policy was a response to an NRA-backed provision in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that required the Defense Department to allow more service members to carry firearms on base.
“It is a good first step in that it recognizes personal protection is a valid issue for service members, but there are many roadblocks in the way of making that option available,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told the Washington Free Beacon.
Those wishing to apply for permission to carry a firearm must be at least 21 years old and meet all federal, state and local laws, the directive said.
It would appear that the Pentagon saw no problems with implementing a policy for which President-elect Donald Trump has expressed support.
The immediate institution of this directive probably left President Barack Obama incensed, but he undoubtedly realized that there was nothing he could do to prevent its implementation in a couple of months anyway. And that’s good news because it works to ensure the safety of our troops, which should always be a priority.
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