Active duty U.S. service-members can now request concealed carry permits for protection at all U.S. government facilities, following a slew of terrorist attacks, according to a recently released Pentagon directive.
U.S. service-members previously were only allowed to carry weapons assigned by the U.S. military for a specific job function. They can now request concealed carry permits for their own privately-owned firearms “for personal protection not associated with the performance of official duties,” the new directive says.
The Pentagon’s directive follows the 2009 Fort Hood shooting by Major Nidal Hissan, and the 2015 attack on a Marine Corps recruiting facility in Chattanooga. The Pentagon underwent faced scrutiny by gun control advocates, who noted that service-members in both cases may have been able to defend themselves if armed.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement in the wake of the Chattanooga attack saying that prohibiting U.S. military personnel from being personally armed is “outrageous.” The lobbying group specified that it would “pursue a legislative fix to ensure that our service men and women are allowed to defend themselves on U.S. soil.”
Opponents of the directive pointed out that military recruiters are often located in shopping malls, cautioning that armed personnel could cause panic in some communities.
“The military has to engage communities and potential members of the military. So they were constantly balancing access and being welcome with, of course, the security and safety of the recruiters,” CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem said at the time.
The directive’s application to military recruiters is still unclear. Recruiters can apply for authorization at 90 day intervals based on specific threats. However they will not be permitted to carry concealed firearms at off-base facilities.
“DoD personnel assigned to recruiting duties should not be armed when visiting high schools that have law enforcement or security personnel on site,” the directive reads.
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