Despite congressional action that will lead to a new policy of potentially allowing soldiers to carry personal concealed firearms on post, we won’t see soldiers toting their personal handguns on post anytime soon.
Since the tragic shootings on post in 2009 and 2014, many 2nd Amendment activists, including members of Congress, have been arguing that soldiers should have the right to carry their own firearm on post in the same fashion that many Texas residents have when it comes to concealed carry.
Service members could be allowed to carry personal firearms on post if an amendment in the defense authorization bill finishes its final hurdles in Congress in the days ahead and is approved by President Barack Obama.
Commanders “may authorize a member of the armed forces who is assigned to duty at the installation to carry a concealed personal firearm in the installation if the commander determines it to be necessary as personal- or force-protection measure,” according to the amendment, which the House passed in May and added to the defense authorization bill.
The fact that the amendment gives the decision for troops to carry personal firearms to commanders appeased a lot of fury over the issue coming from top military and former military brass.
Off the record, any commander likely will tell you that there are probably some soldiers in his or her unit who shouldn’t be carrying around a loaded firearm.
Moreover, I’m willing to bet that a lot of commanders, all of whom are rightfully concerned about risk management, are not likely to approve an order allowing their soldiers to carry personal firearms while on duty during a normal work day.
If anything, commanders might allow a very limited number of soldiers to carry personal firearms. For example, they might say company first sergeants are authorized to carry personal firearms.
But even that is unlikely because a commander who is concerned about security at Fort Hood probably will take other steps before saying to his troops: “OK, soldiers, go ahead and bring in your own personal weapons today, if you want to.”
First of all, Fort Hood has its own police force and regular Army units that can — using military-issued weapons — defend the fort if the threat level calls for it.
Secondly, commanders will have to consider the more likely scenario: Does the risk of an accidental shooting involving a personally carried concealed firearm outweigh the likelihood that a random shooting will occur on post and involve my soldiers?
In any event, I seriously doubt soldiers will be able to carry personal firearms on post anytime soon.