Why active-duty military should be able to carry concealed

A U.S. Navy Sailor assigned to USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) is shooting with a M-9 Beretta pistol during a marksmanship training exercise at the indoor range, Caserma Ederle, Vicenza, Italy, Sept. 10, 2015. (U.S. Army Photos by Visual Information Specialist Davide Dalla Massara /Released)

In an environment where the threat of attack has certainly come closer to home for servicemembers serving in the United States, tensions and national discussions are running high on the subject of concealed carry for qualified military personnel.

Following the attacks carried out in Chattanooga against recruiters and reservists last year, as well as shootings at Lackland and Fort Hood by military members against their own, commanders, politicians and civilians alike have weighed in their opinions and remedies concerning better protecting servicemembers- and trusting them to make decisions.

The US Air Force is taking baby steps, authorizing commanders to allow carry by credentialed airmen on military installations. US Army recruiters have informed Popular Military that they have been issued bulletproof desks, as well as some recruiters -and active duty soldiers- who have admitted to carrying concealed in an unauthorized form, many citing that it is “better to apologize than ask permission.”

Last month, Popular Military contacted the chief of US Army Recruiting Command Public Affairs to inquire about the current force protection measures but she declined to comment.

Despite the attitude of many soldiers, the attitudes of Army leadership have a less than favorable view on the matter. In January, fifteenth Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey told soldiers at a Fort Campbell town hall meeting that “the risk we assume by arming every soldier with [his or her] own weapon is greater than [the risk of] an attack on our own installations.” While Dailey reinforced that he is not anti-gun, he said that it is “a risk we’re [the Army] not ready to assume.”

Others -including military personnel- feel slighted that military personnel entrusted with everything from fully-loaded M4s to Minuteman III nuclear-tipped missiles are denied even basic consideration when it comes to carrying concealed.

“If you can’t trust your NCOs and officers with handguns, you’ve got incredible problems”, Sean Sorrentino of The Gun Blog commented in regards to a January Army Times article on the subject.

Tennessee State Senator and former Special Operations officer, Dr. Mark Green told Popular Military that the Army’s current position banning qualified and vetted soldiers from carrying is “crazy”. Dr. Green -who assisted in the capture, care and interrogation of Saddam Hussein- lobbied unsuccessfully in the past to convince Tennessee’s governor to sign an executive order allowing Active Duty personnel to be able to carry in The Volunteer State using only their military ID. With much of his influence surrounding Fort Campbell, Dr. Green remains in touch with the needs of servicemembers on the installation.

One soldier -who wishes to remain anonymous- says many of his own carry, which is in direct violation of US Army policy.

“We run a lot of risk here”, he said in a phone interview. “You can pretty much smuggle anything into this installation, anyway. A lot of the guys carry or keep guns in their vehicles- they don’t want to count on some amped-up MP who is going to show up when it’s too late. I don’t do it but I’m glad one of our own guys can have the drop on a problem when it starts.”

As for the policy, the soldier said he is disappointed with the Army’s standing decision.

“I know some people who can carry, probably shouldn’t”, he said. “Still, the Army could have their own requirements to be met if they are so worried about people being unsafe. I mean, what does that say about your leadership when they only trust you with a gun when you’re at war? You have incompetent people, sure. But I remember stories about cops on post forgetting their guns in bathrooms and the PX (Post Exchange). Somebody issued that guy an M9 and gave him orders to bust me if he finds a gun in my car.”

The US Army could in fact develop a program to qualify soldiers to carry on post, much in the same way they demand motorcyclists take a safety course before riding their motorcycles on post. States where universities are allowing carry on campus -often by people much younger and less tactically experienced than the average soldier- are also considering similar methods to properly vet certified individuals for carrying privately-owned weapons in school zones.

Much like when concealed carry legislation gained steam in the 1980s, a popular sentiment echoed by many gun control advocates is “the streets will run red with blood.” However, seeing how that fear never materialized when concealed carry became the norm in the United States, shouldn’t the US Military re-evaluate their stance? After all, prohibition clearly isn’t preventing those will ill-intent from bringing -and deploying- their weapons on military property.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by Popular Military

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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