70 lawmakers call on DoD to lift ban on personal firearms on bases

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter AP

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is under pressure from GOP lawmakers to lift the DoD’s gun free zones. (Photo: AP/Alex Wong)

Capitol Hill Republicans are demanding Secretary of Defense Ash Carter make changes to the policy of prohibiting personal firearms on Department of Defense property.

U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., penned a letter signed by 67 other members of the House as well as Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. Wednesday to Carter calling for the change in light of the attack in Chattanooga last week that left five service members dead.

“The American people want to know what we are doing to give their sons and daughters the highest probability that they can go to work in uniform and come home safe,” said Rigell in a statement. “The murder of four Marines, one Sailor, and wounding of others is further, irrefutable evidence that domestic terrorism targeting our stateside troops is real and ongoing. Our service members have a right to defend themselves and we cannot delay in confronting these real and imminent threats.”

The ban on personal firearms carried by service members on military installations, in effect since 1992, is within Carter’s power to lift, contends Rigell.

“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,” reads the letter.

The move comes as governors in several states are issuing directives to allow National Guard members under their command to carry, while others are moving guard recruiters out of strip malls and into better defended armories to increase security.