I begin by saying that this is my opinion. I believe a number of factors have driven the DOD policy of prohibiting troops in CONUS from carrying firearms on post/base. Historically, particularly since the civil war, congress passed the posse comitatus act to prohibit the land forces from enforcing civil law. Over time, a military member in CONUS under arms, particularly off post/base, was viewed as repugnant to the civil populace if not down right scary. More with dealing with individual 18-20 year old troops, the same reason that a range officer has these kids jump up and down to hear if one or more have any live ammo on board before leaving the controlled environment of the firing line, Post/Base and unit commanders are inclined to be very conservative relative weapons and live ammo moving about the area of operation/responsibility. They subscribe to the enema approach to management. That is, snuffy gets constipated, screws up to the level of having a memo named after him/her, and all “get the enema.”
Another reason is the historic arrogance of commanders who believe that no one would dare mount any kind of attack on their units in the U.S. It simply just can’t happen here.
Things have changed. Police officers challenged openly in the street. Bad guys routinely carrying firearms. Look at Jersey City this week.
With the increase in availability of concealed weapons permits for the civilian populace in many states, the idea of permitting service members to carry personal weapons on post/base has been floated at least at the local level. Getting service wide or DOD wide consensus on implementing such a policy is not an easy task. General Officers who may have CID/AFOSI/NCIS/CGIS/Marine Corps CID armed personal protection, many times forget whence they came. The idea of CYA is very much alive at the atmospheric levels of the upper levels of management. Back to the enema approach. They sometimes think in the worst terms. Lance Corporal Bubba got drunk in quarters, pulled out his/her personal Beretta 92F, started seeing giant spiders, and went to work. The commander’s answer is don’t let Bubba or his ilk have the weapon on base.
As a now admitted scofflaw, I was assigned to the 2nd AD G-2 staff at Ft. Hood circa '73-'75. I used to pair up with an NCO from the Division Provost Marshal to conduct penetration inspections on post on weekends in civilian clothes. We would BS our way past unit CQ’s and unit motor pool guards, who by the way were armed with ax handles after too many unloaded M-16’s had been taken by force or intimidation! During those inspections I carried a personal Walther PPK/S. No, I did not ask permission. One does not ask a question to which he/she knows the answer and then go against it. One simply asks forgiveness should something untoward happen. Not an endorsement, simply the way it was.
At any rate, these many years later, I support a change to policy to permit members to carry personal weapons in garrison. I could live with a compromise like granting permission to officers, warrants, and NCO’s. At least there would be a sizeable contingent of personnel with the ability to respond to a hostile threat. That’s my 2 cents. And so it goes…