The DoD Finally Recognizes the Absurdity of “Gun-Free Zones”

In an interesting pre-Trump move, the Department of Defense (DoD) has notionally rescinded the so-called “gun-free zone” restrictions for military installations which have effectively, and ironically, made them soft targets in the recent past.

Many pro-Second Amendment groups and individuals have called on the president-elect to take such a policy action upon assuming office in January, or shortly thereafter – a proposal he appeared to support, but the timing of this decision is nonetheless surprising (at least to me) given the current administration still in place.

This is an excellent first step, to be sure.  I wrote to my House Representative last year that the Marines killed in Chattanooga were unable to defend themselves, and given their status as American professionals of arms, this was both pragmatically pathetic and avoidably tragic.  But this directive does not currently go far enough.  It is not a blanket approval for military members or DoD civilian employees to open or concealed carry; each individual has to be authorized by at least an O-5 commander and such discretionary command authorization is far from guaranteed (this is effectively similar to a “may issue” authority versus a “shall issue” one).  Indeed, I would again be surprised if any commanders end up authorizing many such requests going forward.

Additionally, this does nothing to support non-DoD employees’ legal and ethical rights to self-defense.  Far more non-employee civilians frequent and are employed (i.e., as contractors) at the typical military installation than are military or DoD personnel.  Military and DoD personnel’s lives are no more sanctified than any others.

However, according to the directive, “DoD Component heads will… consider standardizing authorizations for other DoD personnel, who are trained in the scaled use of force or who have been previously qualified to use a government-issued firearm, to carry a firearm in the performance of official duties on DoD property.”  Again, not a complete solution, but edging closer to one than was previously the case.

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  1. #1 by sambolm on November 23, 2016 - 4:00 PM

    I have been waiting for clear headed action such as thid for a long time. Being a soldier in these times makes me feel like I have a target on my back constantly, in my own country. We are all trained very well in weapons handling and should be allowed to remain armed with the ability to defend ourselves and others.

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