Defense Bill Paves Way for Service Members to Carry Firearms on Installations

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The conference report for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill would give commanders of domestic military facilities discretion to allow service members to carry firearms, a response to lawmakers’ concerns about shootings in recent years at installations and smaller facilities.The bill would require the defense secretary to establish a process for commanders of military installations, reserve and recruiting centers, and other defense facilities inside the United States to authorize service members to carry firearms if they conclude it is necessary for force protection. The secretary would be required to consider the views of senior leadership at military installations in establishing new procedures.Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his House counterpart, Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), pledged to address force protection in the defense policy bill following a July shooting at a Marine Corps recruiting center and a Navy reserve center in Chattanooga, Tenn., in which five service members were killed, reported CQ.Previous shooting incidents took place at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 and 2014, and at Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard in 2013. Members of the Armed Services committees indicated that more widely arming service members could reduce response times to active shooter attacks on military installations, according to the joint explanatory statement accompanying the bill, H.R. 1735.“The conferees remain concerned about the response times to active shooter attacks on U.S. military installations and facilities,” the lawmakers wrote.“The conferees believe that commanders of U.S. military installations and facilities should take steps to arm additional personnel in order to diminish response times to active shooter attacks if they believe that arming those personnel will contribute to that goal,” according to the statement.Congress cleared the defense measure earlier this month but the clock has not yet started ticking for President Obama to decide whether or not to carry out his threat to veto it, as Congress has not yet sent the bill to the White House.The text of the conference report and the joint explanatory statement, along with a House Armed Services Committee summary, are available on the House Rules Committee website.last_img

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