GOP bill puts guns in the hands of military spouses to protect from Islamic State threat

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would let military spouses buy handguns in the state where their husbands and wives are on permanent duty.

Rigell said this change is needed after the Islamic State released a “hit list” of military targets, which puts military families at risk of attack. He said that threat means it’s critical to ensure that military families have access to guns wherever their service member spouses are serving.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 15: Naomi (last name withheld) looks at a shotgun to purchase for home protection at the 'Get Some Guns & Ammo' shooting range on January 15, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lawmakers are calling for tougher gun legislation after recent mass shootings at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Credit: Getty Images
A woman examines a shotgun at a gun dealer in Utah. House Republicans have just proposed a bill to let military spouses buy guns in states in or near where their service member husbands and wives are stationed, a response to a threat from the Islamic State to target some military families. Credit: Getty Images

“Considering the threats we face from Islamic extremists, foreign and domestic, and lone wolves, it is prudent that our military families have the tools they need to protect their loved ones,” he said.

“Spouses should be able to purchase handguns in the state where their husband or wife is stationed,” he added. “They have the right to protect themselves, and this bill allows them to fully exercise their 2nd Amendment right.”

Rigell said his district in Virginia is home to more active duty service members than any other district, and said he has heard complaints that some military spouses face obstacles when they try to buy a firearm.

Rigell noted that the Gun Control Act of 1968 only allows people to buy firearms in the state where they legally reside. That means if a family legally resides in one state, but the service member spouse is on duty in another state, the spouse of that service member cannot legally buy a gun.

Under that law, service members themselves are allowed to buy a firearm in the state where they are assigned, but that exemption was never expanded to include military spouses. Rigell’s bill would also let military spouses buy firearms in a state that neighbors the one where the service member is on duty.

“We have an obligation to protect these men and women and ensure they have access to the resources they need to defend themselves and their families in any community they are stationed for duty,” Rigell said.