Barletta Urges SecDef to Allow Weapons for Service Members
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, is urging Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to overturn the policy that prohibits base commanders from allowing service members to carry personal firearms on military installations. Barletta and 57 other members of Congress have sent a letter to Carter in the wake of the attacks on recruiting offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee that killed four marines and one sailor and wounded several others. The letter argues that active duty service members should have the ability to defend themselves, particularly in light of increased acts of terrorism on American soil.
“We must not delay in confronting this real and imminent threat,” the letter to Carter reads. “Current Department of Defense regulations, in place since at least 1992, prohibit base commanders from allowing service members to carry personal firearms on military installations. You have the authority to change this directive, and we implore you to do so. Specifically, we ask that you allow the Commanding Officer at each of our military bases and reserve centers to authorize certain personnel to carry personal firearms as a means of enhanced force protection.”
On July 16, 2015, police say 24-year-old Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez sprayed a recruitment office with dozens of bullets before moving on to a second location and continuing his assault. In the letter to Carter, the members of Congress also reference other acts of domestic terrorism where service members were the targets. They list the attack at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009 in which 13 people died, and another that year in Little Rock, Arkansas that killed one person. The members also cite disrupted domestic terrorist plots with the U.S. military as the planned targets in Illinois and Maryland.
“Though legislation has been introduced via an amendment to the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act, which makes clear that the Secretary of Defense would empower commanders to enact this policy, you have the discretion and authority to make this important change now,” the letter states. “Our men and women in uniform should have the fundamental right to defend themselves, and their families deserve the peace of mind that all reasonable steps are being taken to ensure that their loved one returns home safely at the end of the day.”
Click here to view full letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.