Legislation Would Ease Gun Restrictions for Military Spouses

Caption: A Marine spouse shoots a target with a M9 9mm pistol. (U.S. Marine Corps)
Caption: A Marine spouse shoots a target with a M9 9mm pistol. (U.S. Marine Corps)

Military spouses could be able to purchase a handgun in any state without first becoming a resident if recently proposed legislation is passed into law.

Under current federal law, active duty service members can purchase handguns in any state without proving they are state residents. But that law does not extend to their spouses, who must first establish state residency before making a firearm purchase.

The legislation, offered by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., would change that. His proposed rules would put active duty service members and their spouses on equal footing when purchasing a firearm.

Rigell drafted the legislation in response to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threats targeted at military spouses and family members, he said.

Related Poll: Easy Gun Purchases for all MilSpouses?

"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," Rigell said in a statement. "Spouses should be able to purchase handguns in the state where their husband or wife is stationed. They have the right to protect themselves, and this bill allows them to fully exercise their second amendment right." 

Service members and military spouses have been the target this year of online threats made by groups claiming to be affiliated with ISIS. In March, the names, addresses and photos of 100 service members were posted online as a "wanted" list. In February a group calling themselves the "Cyber Caliphate" hacked the Twitter and Facebook accounts of a military spouse and sent threatening messages to a handful of others.

Before becoming law, the proposal must first pass both the House and the Senate and must be signed by the president.

Similar legislation has been proposed at the state level in some states, including Nebraska. The bill there was tabled early this year when a lawmaker proposed including same-sex military spouses in the residency exemption. Unlike federal law, Nebraska state law does not recognize same-sex marriage.

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