Just one person assigned to Naval Air Station Pensacola has sought permission to carry a private gun for safety reasons since the Department of Defense loosened restrictions in late 2016, according to officials at the base.
“In the past couple years, we’ve only had one request, and that was not granted,” said Jason Bortz, a spokesman for the base.
Some gun-rights activists have suggested the restrictive gun policies have encouraged mass shootings at U.S. military installations, like the one a month ago that claimed the lives of four people, including the shooter, ad the Pensacola base.
Generally, weapons have been tightly controlled on U.S. military bases, limited only to people who need them for their official duties. The Pentagon in November 2016, however, issued new guidelines relaxing those rules somewhat.
Under that directive, individual base commanders can authorize service members to carry their private guns – open or concealed – for personal protection. But the guidelines remain stringent. The policy states that written authorization to carry guns is valid for 90 days or as long as authorities deem it “appropriate.”
The policy also requires that the servicemen carrying guns:
- Meet all applicable state, local and federal laws, including possession of gun licenses, where applicable.
- Not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs that cause hallucinations, drowsiness or impair judgement.
- Acknowledge potential liability for injuries, death or property damage that might result from shooting the firearms.
The directive also states that permission shall “not be granted unless the arming authority makes a determination, after consultation with servicing legal counsel and in accordance with applicable DoD policy, that the request falls within an exception” in a law that generally prohibits firearms from federal buildings.
In addition, people getting permission to carry guns must comply with a host of training, storage and security requirements.
A gunman on Dec. 6 opened fire in a classroom area on the sprawling Pensacola base, killing three people and wounding eight others. An Escambia County sheriff’s deputy responding to the incident eventually shot him dead.
The FBI later identified the perpetrator as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian air force who was stationed at the base under a program that invites members of allied militaries to train in the United States.
FOX10 New has sought more details about the reasons offered for why the service member wanted to be armed on base and why commanders denied the request.