History of Military Gun Control

Dave Hardy points out that, surprise, it started with Clinton. But my understanding from people in the military is that soldiers carrying guns for self-protection was not common in the military before this. It’s likely that Clinton just formalized what was already the prevailing practice.

18 thoughts on “History of Military Gun Control”

  1. No surprise that soldiers didn’t regularly carry arms for self-defense on base even when they could. In spite of having huge numbers of single young men, I’m guessing that most of the serious threats in that age range were excluded because of criminal record, failure to pass minimal mental health standards, and that a lot of the really bad eggs were not interested in military service, which has standards of discipline.

  2. Political correctness, diversity, etc is destroying our military.

    If we are serious about a War on Terror (and I know a lot of people are divided on that) we at least need to have real protection. That would include qualifying various NCO’s and officers for open and concealed carry of firearms. That would be a start (I’m not holding my breath) to protecting ourselves from ne’er do wells of all stripes.

  3. In my experience, that order wasn’t enforced. This is the first I’ve heard of it and I was in the whole time Clinton was President.

    I regularly carried my gun for protection while driving across Texas from El Paso to Memphis, as did many soldiers I knew back then. You didn’t need a permit if travelling (so I was told).

    Of course, back then permits weren’t as mainstream as they are now.

  4. In most states, if you’re military carrying on active duty, you’re fine. That’s certainly the case in Pennsylvania. Military personnel on duty, like police officers, are exempted from most state laws on carrying weapons.

  5. Markie Marxist sez: “Anytime we can get control over individuals we should disarm them. That helps with our Marxist gun ban agenda that’s aimed at eliminating private gun ownership entirely. It’s just common communist sense to disarm private individuals whenever possible. People in the military are especially easy to disarm. They can just be ordered not to have guns. That makes life easier for our Marxist/warrior/hero/criminal/mass murderers to help us out with the body count we need to advance our gun ban agenda. We disarm as many potential victims as possible by laws, rules, regulations, etc., and then just sit back and wait for the inevitable contribution to our body count. We picked up thirteen bodies for our body count at Ft. Hood the other day! Ha! Ha! We Marxists make the political rules, and then we enjoy the political benefits! It’s nice to be in power! All your dead soldiers are belong to us! After all, we killed them! Ha! Ha!”

  6. Rustmeister-I would assume the regulation only applies on military installations. Commanders authority to regulate personal weapons usually has stopped at the base gate.

  7. The seems to be confusion here about the military and carry. Yes, most states exempt active duty people from their state laws, but only when carrying while on duty in connection with their job. For example, Army CID agents do not need separate state permission to carry off base while on duty. Some states will allow active duty folks to bypass the local training and residency requirements when applying for a CCW. However, during the 20 years of my Mil Career, 68-88, and since, I have never seen a military installation that let anyone other than MPs or investigators carry on base, and then only while actually working.
    You know those scenes in NCIS where you see the guys taking their guns out of their desk drawer? On most bases, they would have to have been locked in their lockers when not out of the office!

  8. Base Commanders have wide discretion in what military members do off post. Remember, when you are on active duty you are never “not working” you are simply not standing duty. As the Marines made clear to me in ’91, leave and liberty is a privilege, not a right; in fact, even the wearing of civilian attire is a privilege.

    Commanders can and do have the authority to forbid active service personnel from carrying under state laws even when off-post and off-duty; the Army commander in Alaska issued such an order several years ago and even after the change of command that order has not been rescinded.

    Given the enumerated power of Congress to regulate the Armed Forces and the voluntary nature of the Services, that may the one of the few truly Constitutional “reasonable regulations” permissable under the Second Amendment. If it came to a fight, the various service chiefs could simply bar the wearing of civilian clothing and then enforce uniform regulations against carrying any items or equipment not expressly authorized for a given uniform.

  9. Matthew-

    I have seen this claim made by several people on various sites ever since the shooting on Fort Hood, and I just have to address it. While it is true that a Base Commander can make a regulation regarding what his service members do outside of the gates, it is also largely irrelevant. This is because enforcement of those rules, whatever they may be, is basically impossible. Most prohibitions regarding off-base/post behavior exist solely to be an additional charge thrown at a service member if he gets in trouble for something, for example many bases will place certain clubs or bars on a restricted list, and then if someone gets in trouble at one of those establishments you charge them with disobeying a direct order in addition to whatever their actual crime was. However, with the exception of some training commands they almost never actually check to see if anyone is violating the rule by going and looking in the establishment. This makes having a “no CCW off-base” rule even more meaningless, the very nature of concealed carry means no one knows you are doing it. The only way the command would find out is if you were to be caught in some sort of unlawful activity while carrying, in which case you are already in trouble and the additional “violated a direct order” charge is really just icing on the cake.
    I know this post sounds a little like an advocation of anarchy, as one could make the same argument for all laws (another discussion), but I am just trying to reassure people that even if some base commander for some reason wanted to make sure that all his personnel were defenseless in their own homes, his order would have the same effectiveness as the “no underage drinking” campaigns, which is to say none whatsoever.

  10. If the base commander in Alaska’s policy still stands, it may be because it has not been challenged. I believe the commander of Ft. Leavenworth attempted to require all personel, even those living off base, to register the personal weapons, and was eventually shot down. So, yes commanders do have limitations on their powers over servicemen off-base and off-duty, although in theory commanders could simply order everyone to remain on base, but that would probably lead to a near mutiny.

  11. It is my understanding that this rule actually started under Carter, not Clinton. It’s one reason the Marines in Beruit were unarmed when the base was attacked.

  12. My experience in the Marines between 1970 and 1972 says that guns on base and in the barracks would have been a disaster. The cutting up and rambunctious horseplay that we got up to would have turned deadly if guns had been available. It was all in good fun, I remember very few serious fights on Camp Lejeune, but we made the proverbial college frat boys look tame by comparison.

  13. “Political correctness, diversity, etc is destroying our military.”

    Amen to that! It’s all destroying the rest of America, too, as far as I’m concerned.

    I was in the military pre-9/11, and back then, all of my instructors in basic training used the term “raghead” on a regular basis to refer to our potential combat adversaries in the middle east. As far as I know, nobody ever made any sort of fuss over the usage of this terminology.

    I’ll bet that the basic training instructors of today’s military sure as sugar cannot use such terminology now though, that is, without somebody such as Major Hasan then filing a complaint against them. (Perhaps there has also even been a service-wide Pentagon memo to order everybody from using such terminology lest it offends anyone.)

    Of course, this would have all been a while before Major Hasan then decided to just lock and load a FN Five-Seven with 30-round magazines and start slaughtering everybody whom he thought did not have the same sympathies as he did towards certain adherents of a “religion of peace.”

    Of course, these same certain adherents of a “religion of peace” would also be the very ones who keep trying to find new and not-so-peaceful ways to murder non-adherents, all so that these certain adherents can then supposedly attain 72 virgins in the afterlife.

  14. Matthew – The Alaska CCW ban has never been litigated. I know of few people who don’t think it would fall if challenged.

  15. ParaJJ,

    Under what court would the Base Commander’s order be litigated? It can be complained about via the chain of command and the BC can decide to rescind it or it could be countermanded by a superior but there isn’t a court with the authority to “overrule” it that I’m aware of.


    The fact that you are unlikely to be caught doesn’t make it okay to be violated nor does it make it empty of authority, like you say, by that line of reasoning no law has any effectiveness. Hell, the prohibition on sleeping on watch only “matters” if someone catches you.

    The Commander has as much power as he wants to exert unless someone up the chain reins him in. If he wanted to he could go out in town, find an off-duty soldier and order them to return to base with him. At the gate that soldier could be searched and a CCW discovered.

    Obviously that isn’t likely to occur and I’m sure the Mothers of America would get their Senator’s and Rep’s on the horn to raise hell up and down the chain, but that is fully within a BC’s lawful authority. I don’t disagree that the carry ban is a stupid rule (though it came into effect because wanna-be gang banger idiot soldiers were fighting with and sometimes shooting at civilians).

    Anyway, Happy Veteran’s Day to all.

  16. Sorry to say that STUPID didn’t “come in with Carter.” There’s at least one occurrence in Vietnam where Special Forces soldiers were required to be disarmed inside the wire (at a camp). Their military-issued weapons were “secured” when the bad guys came through the wire and attacked. Several of our best were found dead, having used the only weapons they had; knives, entrenching tools and bare hands to fight to the last.
    As I’ve noted elsewhere, our ID cards no longer read “U.S. Armed Forces” they now say “Uniformed Services”. Truth in advertising.

  17. Matthew-

    I agree completely about it being within his lawful authority, I just wanted to reassure some people who I think were getting concerned that “our troops are defenseless at home” because of an order their commander has given to cover himself politically in case of some kind of incident. There are lots of orders governing off-duty personal behavior that are out there that, while having the full force of law behind them, are paid no more heed than an a dentist’s admonishment to use dental floss every time you brush. I think a “no-CCW” or ban on personal weapons at home policy would fall into that category.

    Boat Guy-

    That “Uniformed Services” thing bugs me as well. The Post Office wear uniforms and provide a service, do they fall under that heading as well?

  18. Ft,

    Gotcha. Hopefully the various commanders will think about Ft. Hood and move toward force (individual) protection and not go the other direction even further.

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