A major new policy revision is being celebrated by U.S. military personnel concerned with their right to self defense. They can now request to carry concealed handguns at government facilities.
The new Defense Department directive was issued last week, and aims to stem the tide of violence soldiers and sailors have faced over the last few years. This is a major win for those concerned with the constitutional rights of those who serve.
And the new directive goes beyond issued weapons. Some service members have been allowed to carry for specific tasks, but this opens up the option for them to carry their personal firearms “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties.”
“Commanders have always had that authority to arm recruiters,” Army Maj. Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman said. “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.”
The push for concealed carry gained momentum after the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people. More than 30 others were injured. Then in July of last year, the attack on a Chattanooga recruiting station ended with the deaths of four Marines and a sailor.
The directive covers concealed carry on domestic facilities, and does not apply to troops deployed to war zones. Soldiers will apply for something similar to a concealed carry permit, one that lasts for 90 day increments.
“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,” the directive reads.
Defense Department should be granted permits, “when there is a general or specific threat of possible harm directed against them when that threat relates to the person’s official duties or status.”
It is unclear just how liberally the policy will be applied, or if there will have to be specific and identifiable threats to safety that warrant issuance of the permits, but the directive does go a very long way to tackle what many have seen as a policy that places unarmed soldiers directly in harms way.