Marines Change Policy, Allows Law Enforcement To Carry Off-Duty While On Base

Days after the base commander at Offutt AFB in Nebraska ignited a storm of controversy by banning concealed carry holders from transporting legally owned firearms on base, the Marine Corps is taking a step in the opposite direction. A new memo released Tuesday states that Marines working in law enforcement can now carry their privately owned firearms on Marine Corps bases, even while off-duty.

From Stars & Stripes:

Civilians and Marines credentialed under the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act may carry their own firearms for personal protection but cannot use them while on duty, a service memo issued Tuesday said.

On Dec. 4, a sailor fatally shot two men and injured another before killing himself at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Two days later, a Saudi air force officer in training shot and killed three sailors before he was killed by police officers at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.

“These tragic events prompted Headquarters Marine Corps to accelerate existing efforts to develop concealed carry policies” aligned with a May memo on the use of force signed by Navy Under Secretary Thomas Modly, the Marine Corps memo said.

Off-duty law enforcement officers remain prohibited from carrying weapons in Defense Department schools under federal law and in base courthouses unless authorized by a military judge, the memo said.

As I said, this is is a step in the right direction, though I don’t believe that carrying should be restricted to members of law enforcement. The Marine Corps Times reports that there may be more changes on the way.

The new rule does not authorize the approved Marines to carry on any base or installation that is not controlled by the Marine Corps.

The personal weapons carried by the Marines, must meet all local, state and federal laws for caliber, ammunition, capacity and design…

The Marine Corps is still considering further changes to policy restricting the use of personally owned firearms on base to improve the base safety, the MARADMIN said.

The Marine Corps continues “to develop policy to address the total force requirements for the carry, transport, and storage of concealed POFs aboard Marine Corps property,” the MARADMIN said.

Hopefully the Marine Corps will continue to move in the right direction and will allow more Marines who possess their concealed carry license to carry on base, even if they’re off duty.

Meanwhile, the furor over the change in policy at Offutt AFT continues, with Stars & Stripes reporting that the base commander doesn’t seem interested in reversing his decision.

Ryan Hansen, a spokesman for the 55th Wing, said individuals with Defense Department identification cards and concealed carry permits from Nebraska and reciprocating states could check a personal firearm at the installation’s armory. To do so, individuals would be required to unload their firearm and place ammunition and the weapon in separate locked compartments before arriving at Offutt. They would then need to declare to gate guards that they had a licensed firearm in the vehicle that was properly stored and would be immediately checked at the armory, Hansen said.

He added Marks was aware of the negative responses on Facebook and appreciative of the feedback.

Marks “understood from the beginning this change could be viewed negatively and may inconvenience some,” Hansen said. “However, he strongly believes in the policy change and feels it is in the best interest of Offutt Air Force Base.”

As Hansen makes clear, there’s really no way for any concealed carry holder to have their firearm if they need it on their way to or from the base, since their gun would need to be unloaded, locked, and all ammo locked and stored away separately before arriving to the base. Offutt AFB’s Facebook page is also still being flooded with comments and criticism from those opposed to the move.