Sunday, March 29, 2009
Military demands details on soldiers' private guns
Fort Campbell command reversed under pressure
A military commander at Fort Campbell in Kentucky demanded his soldiers give him the registration numbers of any guns they own privately and then reveal where they are stored.
The order was stopped, according to base officials, when it was discovered the commander was not "acting within his authority."
The original order was issued on the letterhead of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment and said effective March 11, any soldier with a "privately owned weapon" was required to submit the information, along with any information about any concealed carry permit the soldier may have, and what state issued the permit.
Further, the rule warned, "If any soldier comes into possession of a Privately Owned Weapon following the effective date of this memorandum, he is required to inform the Chain of Command of the above information."
One soldier who objected to the demands circulated the memo, commenting that he lives off post.
"It just seems a little coincidental to me that within 90 days the most anti-firearm president in history is inaugurated, some of the nastiest anti-firearm laws are put on the table in Washington, and then the Army comes around wanting what amounts to a registration on all firearms, even if they are off post, and doesn't provide any reason or purpose as to why," the soldier said.
Base spokeswoman Cathy Gramling told WND the letter apparently was a mistake. She said the base requires anyone bringing a privately owned weapon onto the installation to register it.
"As a response to a number of negligent discharges of privately owned weapons, the command decided to explore how to implement a training program for soldiers with privately owned weapons. Their goal is to identify soldiers with firearms and provide additional safety training to them, much like our motorcycle and driver safety classes," she said.
"Our soldiers train and operate in combat with M-4 carbines and various other military weapons, but not all who purchase their own weapons are properly trained to handle them. Determining which soldiers possess weapons will allow the command to identify the soldiers who may require additional training on them," she said.
Learn here why it's your right – and duty – to be armed.
Gramling said the memo was "from a subordinate unit commander who, at the time, believed he was acting within his authority." She said requiring the information was halted when it was discovered the commander was not within his authority.
The process has been suspended pending a full review, she said.
"This is not an effort to infringe on soldiers' rights to own firearms," Gramling told WND.
Mistake or not, the commander's order comes on the heels of a Department of Defense policy that limited the supply of ammunition available to the private gun owners by requiring destruction of fired military cartridge brass.
That policy already had been implemented and had taken a bite out of the nation's stressed ammunition supply before it was reversed this week.
Mark Cunningham, a legislative affairs representative with the Defense Logistics Agency, explained in an e-mail to the office of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., that the Department of Defense had placed small arms cartridge cases on its list of sensitive munitions items as part of an overall effort to ensure national security is not jeopardized in the sale of any Defense property.
"Upon review, the Defense Logistics Agency has determined the cartridge cases could be appropriately placed in a category of government property allowing for their release for sale," Cunningham wrote.