Monday’s deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard has renewed interest in why most military personnel are forbidden from carrying firearms on military bases. In the aftermath, some have pointed fingers at former President Bill Clinton, but is he really to blame?
Not according to what we found.
The question of why military members aren’t armed on base garnered attention back in November 2009 when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at Ft. Hood and killed 13 people. He was sentenced to death on August 28. Now, nearly four years later, many are asking the same question.
So what’s the answer? It appears this “gun-free zone” type policy can actually be traced back to Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 5210.56, signed into effect in February 1992 by Donald J. Atwood, deputy secretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush.
The controversial directive states that “it is DoD Policy” to “limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel.”
“The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried,” it says.
The policy, however, adds, “DoD personnel regularly engaged in law enforcement or security duties shall be armed.” A former member of the Air Force, with experience in base security, thus, told the Washington Post that he would guess there were “no more than a couple of dozen weapons on the Navy Yard.”
It appears DoD Directive 5210.56 was reissued in April 2011 by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III.
However, that policy specifically notes part of its purpose is aimed at implementing “applicable portions of Department of Defense Directive 5210.56,” which, as previously stated, was put into effect by Bush Sr.’s deputy secretary of defense:
Further, DoD spokesman Mark Wright told TheBlaze Army Regulation 190-14 would not apply to other bases under different branches of the military, including the site of Monday’s shooting, Washington Navy Yard.
“No, it would not apply,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
Steven Bucci, a military expert for The Heritage Foundation who served 28 years in the Army and retired in 2005 with the rank of colonel, also told TheBlaze Tuesday afternoon that Clinton is not to blame.
“I think you are barking up the wrong tree if you are looking to put blame on someone for disarming the military,” said Bucci, when asked if Clinton was responsible. “I think that’s kind of a bogus story.”
“We have never had our soldiers walking around with weapons all the time, other than in combat zones,” he added, noting only Military Police have had that authority.
TheBlaze reached out to members of both the Senate and House Armed Services Committee to see if the policy will be revisited in light of Monday’s shooting. At the time of publication, no one was available for comment.
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