No Guidance Yet on Trump's Idea for Personal Weapons on Base: Pentagon

President Donald Trump greets soldiers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Nov. 3. (Stars and Stripes photo/Wyatt Olson)
President Donald Trump greets soldiers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Nov. 3. (Stars and Stripes photo/Wyatt Olson)

The Pentagon said Monday that the military has yet to receive any guidance from the White House on President Donald Trump's idea to allow troops to carry their personal weapons on bases.

"As of now, we have not received any new tasking to update the policy" that limits law enforcement on bases and facilities to military police and base security, and essentially forbids the concealed carry of personal weapons, Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davidson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

Referring to the July 2015 incident in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in which four Marines and a sailor were killed, Trump said last Friday that "If we can't have our military holding guns, it's pretty bad," adding that "I'm going to look at that whole policy on military bases."

"We had a number of instances on military bases, you know that," Trump said in a wide-ranging speech to the annual Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Maryland.

"Typically, only those engaged in law enforcement [or] related duties carry firearms" on bases, Davidson said. However, "Military commanders have the authority to grant permission to DoD personnel requesting to carry a privately-owned firearm [concealed or open carry] on DoD property for a personal protection purpose not related to performance of an official duty or status," he said.

Trump maintained that schools and military bases currently are "gun-free zones" that are easy targets for deranged shooters such as the one in Parkland, Fla., who killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this month.

In his account of the Chattanooga incident, Trump said "You know the five great soldiers from four years ago, three of them were world-class marksmen. They were on a military base in a gun-free zone."

"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 of had a chance if these world-class marksmen had -- on a military base -- access to their guns," Trump said.

The shootings occurred at a recruiting storefront in a strip shopping mall and at a U.S. Naval Reserve Center some miles away but Trump said the victims "were on a military base in a gun-free zone."

One Marine was wounded in the shooting at the recruiting station and the five killed were all at the U.S. Naval Reserve Center.

The victims were Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 40; Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, 35; Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist; Lance Cpl. Squire D. "Skip" Wells, 21; and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26.

The FBI and local police said that Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez carried out a drive-by shooting at the recruiting center and then drove to the U.S. Naval Reserve Center where he was killed in a shootout with police.

Then-FBI Director James Comey later said that Abdulazeez was "motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda."

Following the Chattanooga shootings, the Defense Department under then-Secretary Ashton Carter conducted a review on whether to have troops armed on bases and at recruiting centers.

The review resulted in a directive issued in November 2016 essentially affirming the existing policy and stating that "arming DoD personnel other than law enforcement and security personnel will be considered for locations where law enforcement or security personnel are not located on site or in a reasonable proximity."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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