It didn’t get a lot of attention, but during President Donald Trump’s speech to CPAC on Friday, he suggested that he will be reassessing the policy disallowing firearms on military bases.
“We’re going to look at that whole military base gun-free zone,” he said. “If we can’t have our military holding guns, it’s pretty bad.
“We had a number of instances on military bases, you know that. So we want to protect our military. We want to make our military stronger and better than it’s ever been before.”
Trump specifically referenced the July 2015 shooting spree at a pair of military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in which a gunman killed four Marines and a sailor in a series of ambushes. The attacker was later killed in a firefight with police.
“They were on a military base in a gun-free zone,” Trump said. “They were asked to check their guns quite far away, and a maniac walked in, guns blazing, killed all five of them. He wouldn’t have had a chance if these world-class marksmen had, on a military base, access to their guns.”
According to Military.com, Defense Department policy has considered base security the purview of military police, and has required troops to leave personal weapons either off base or checked in at the gate. These guidelines are ostensibly to prevent accidental shootings or to prevent suicides, of which the military suffers a higher than average rate.
Military.com also reports that Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, in his 2015 Senate confirmation hearing, said of the shootings in Chattanooga, “‘in some cases I think it’s appropriate’ for recruiters to carry weapons for self-defense.”
“I think under certain conditions — both on military bases and in outstations, recruiting stations, reserve centers — we should seriously consider it,” Milley said. Then-Lt. Gen. Milley was commander at Fort Hood, Texas, in April 2014 when three soldiers were killed and 12 wounded in a shooting carried out by Spec. Ivan Lopez.
“So we want to protect our military. We want to make our military stronger and better than it’s ever been,” Trump told CPAC attendees Friday, while also suggesting the need for firearm-trained teachers and military retirees to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.
He may have his work cut out for him as there may currently be a public misunderstanding regarding military bases as “gun-free zones” making them soft targets for shooters.
Um. They are trained, but vast majority are prohibited from being armed on base. Can’t believe this got 56,000 retweets. Ugh. https://t.co/2q4qzqhMlr
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) February 28, 2018