NAS Pensacola shooting reignites guns on bases debate

2 Navy shootings raise questions about firearm policies on U.S. military bases

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A group of Navy instructor pilots has asked for permission to arm themselves, after a gunman killed three sailors and wounded eight others at Naval Air Station Pensacola last week, according to a report from Fox News.

The Pensacola shooting and another at the Naval Shipyard in Pearl Harbor are raising new questions about firearm policies on U.S. military bases.

One of the pilots told Fox News that the Navy denied their request to arm themselves on base.

That is consistent with the firearms policy at many military bases, which do not allow personal firearms.

In 2017, Naval Air Station Jacksonville reminded its personnel in a Facebook post that they are not permitted to carry privately owned firearms for personal protection on the base. The post was in response to a Department of Defense directive about arming and the use of force for personnel.

That directive gave base commanders the power to allow troops to carry concealed personal weapons while on base.

But NAS Jacksonville’s post said the ban on personal firearms remained unchanged on the base and that personnel who carried firearms on base would be violating federal law.

Violations to the federal personal firearms policy can result in jail time, fines and other penalties.

But back-to-back shootings in Pearl Harbor and Pensacola have some arguing that members of the military are trained to handle and operate guns and should be allowed to carry them on bases for protection.

One flight instructor told Fox News it was “stupid” that the shooter was allowed to roam free for so long.

A pilot even went as far as comparing base security at NAS Pensacola and other navy bases to “mall cops," saying he didn’t believe “the guy I show my ID card to at the gate” could save him.

News4Jax is reaching out to local Navy bases to see if they are considering any changes to their firearms policies, and we will update this article with their response.

About the Author: