Packing heat on base
By 2nd Lt. David Liapis, 366 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 26, 2011
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE -- "Excuse me, sir (or ma'am), you have been selected for a random vehicle inspection. Please pull your vehicle over to the side of the road, turn off the engine, open all the doors and compartments and step to the side."
Other than concern over some lost time, this scenario should not cause any stress for those of us who have access to a military installation and know we are subject to these types of searches. But what if you are returning from a hunting trip or have a concealed carry permit and have your weapon with you?
Knowing the correct procedures for transporting personal firearms on base can prevent the above scenario from causing undo mental anguish - or legal ramifications. The proper handling of weapons on base is something that should be taken seriously, as the failure to comply with the rules could get you into serious trouble.
Some may think, "I've never been searched before. No one will ever find out about my gun in the trunk."
Just because it has not happened before does not mean it will never happen. Regardless of whether anyone else knows you are transporting weapons in an unauthorized manner, you know. If for no other reason than it's the right thing to do, you need to comply with the installation's regulations pertaining to transporting firearms.
"The biggest thing the populace needs to know is that if they get stopped and they have a weapon and they are transporting it properly, they just need to let the [security guard or patrolman] know," said Mr. Shawn Roddin, 366th Security Forces Squadron Resource Protection Manager.
There are others who may believe the installation's firearm restrictions are too stringent, and they may as well not exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
While there are rules preventing firearms from being stored in certain locations, such as the dormitories, there are options available to all military personnel eligible to own firearms that allow them to possess guns on base. Airmen living in the dorms need only register their guns and store them at the armory. Members living in base housing are allowed to keep their firearms in their residence after they have been registered with the armory.
"If you have a weapon, you have to register it. If you come on base, we don't want to stop you. You have the right to bear firearms, but you've got to look at the safety aspect too," said Roddin.
The Base Integrated Defense Plan, which dictates the firearms policies, allows for personnel who live off-base to temporarily store weapons in their vehicles for 24 hours, provided they are properly stored. However, there is no provision for anyone to conceal a loaded weapon on base regardless of whether or not they have a state-issued concealed carry permit.
Complacency is something we all need to guard against, especially when it comes to firearms. Someone may know all the rules, yet they may say something like, "I just need to run into the commissary and get some gas. It's on the way to the armory (or base house). It'll be fine."
"It doesn't matter if you get caught. The rules are that this is the way you have to transport weapons, and it's like that for a reason - it's for safety," said Roddin. "It's sort of like the same thing as saying, 'Well, you know, I had all these drinks and I'm over the limit but only have to drive a little bit to get home.' Still, that little bit is breaking the law."
It can be bothersome at times to pull over before coming on the installation, clear and lock up your weapon and store the ammo in a separate compartment. However, it is simply not worth the risk of getting caught transporting a weapon in an unauthorized fashion.
"It's just like not following any other Air Force Instruction - you could be charged with an Article 92, failure to obey an order or regulation," said Roddin. "For civilians, it's a federal offense to improperly store a weapon on an installation. Retirees are the same way."
In today's Air Force, there is little room for error. Getting caught disregarding rules for the handling of a deadly weapon will not bode well for you. For the sake of career, safety and integrity, ensure you know − and follow − the rules of possessing and transporting firearms on base.
Please contact Mr. Roddin at 208-828-4016 with any questions regarding firearms on the installation.