“DOD Directive 5210.56 Arming and the Use of Force” was approved by Robert O. Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense, on November 18, 2016. This change in policy will finally allow military personnel to have privately owned concealed and open carry weapons on our military bases. Most importantly, the directive allows personnel of all four services to “employ deadly force while performing official duties.”
This is an overdue change. Perhaps, if this directive had been in place, Muslim jihadist U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan might not the nerve to carry out his assassination plot on Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. And if he did anyway, then the total of 14 dead and 32 wounded would have been much lower.
Military personnel shouldn’t get excited about this change yet because there may be a issue with Directive 5210.56. Why? Because Section 4.2.a states
“The arming authorities charged with determining whether to permit DoD personnel to carry privately owned firearms on DoD property: may 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.”
The problem is the word “may”. Although the directive
“provides guidance for permitting the carrying of privately owned firearms on DoD property by DoD personnel for personal protection purposes that are not associated with the performance of official duties”,
a commander is not required to approve what the directive states.
Most of the directive provides for common sense regulations. Once a service member requests to carry a weapon on base, then he or she will:
“meet applicable federal, State, local, or, as applicable, host-nation requirements to carry a firearm. Proof of compliance may include a concealed handgun license that is valid under federal, State, local, or host-nation law in the location where the DoD property is located.
“comply with federal, State, and local law, regarding possession and use of privately owned firearms, including but not limited to those concerning the reasonable use of deadly force, self-defense, and accidental discharge.
acknowledge they may be personally liable for the injuries, death, and property damage proximately caused by negligence in connection with the possession or use of privately owned firearms that are not within the scope of their federal employment.”
A former army helicopter pilot (Lt. Col., Ret), who served three tours in Vietnam, has expressed concerns about this change in military policy:
“You have seen the caliber of troops and commanders we now have in all branches of the military. If we are not very careful who we authorize to carry, guns in the wrong hands may result in shootings of the command element, from the Sgt up.”
Whereas many may have the same thoughts, others are looking forward to the day that they are able to protect themselves at their workplace as well as elsewhere where local laws already allow them to do so.