Congress considers provision to allow military personnel to carry guns on bases

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-21 18:31:39-04

A new provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) may end a ban on military personnel carrying weapons on bases, following the deaths of five servicemen who were shot and killed at a Chattanooga recruiting center last Thursday. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced the possibility of the provision in a briefing on Tuesday.

“Right now, we have the NDAA and that’s being discussed in conference,” McCarthy said in a briefing Tuesday. “It could be in the NDAA conference because they have that issue inside there where it could allow the base commander to have the determination.”

Four Marines and a sailor were killed when Mohammad Abdulazeez attacked a recruiting center and local Navy operations support center in Chattanooga, Tenn last week. Abdulazeez was killed by law enforcement during the shootout.

The attack prompted calls to allow military members to carry guns on bases in the hope that such a measure would stop prospective shooters from carrying out a similar attack. The proposed legislation introduced Tuesday would give post commanders the authority to allow soldiers to carry concealed firearms

"It's outrageous that members of our armed services have lost their lives because the government has forced them to be disarmed in the workplace," said Chris Cox, the chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association

Since Thursday’s shooting, the governors of Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas have all issued orders allowing the National Guard to arm its troops at military facilities. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Rep. Steve Cohen, both from Tennessee, reached across party lines to introduce a similar but separate piece of legislation Monday.

“Our men and women in uniform must have the ability to protect themselves regardless of where they are serving,” Rep. DesJarlais, who is the chief Republican sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

The ban on concealed carry on bases was put in place in 1992 by Pentagon directive but the DOD has so far been hesitant to amend its policy. "DoD does not support arming all personnel. We hold this position for many reasons," Army Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Pentagon spokeswoman told the Military Times earlier this week.

Lawmakers are hoping to reach an agreement on the details of the NDAA before August recess.
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