It seems the July 2015 attacks on the recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tennessee prompted the Air Force to remind its base commanders that qualified airmen may carry firearms on base. The issue of firearms on military bases has become another front in the gun control debate. Military installations are virtually gun-free zones, but the recent shootings at Fort Hood, Texas and the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. has many wondering why members of the military can’t carry their firearms on base.
At the same time, this new directive isn’t anything new, according to Military.com. Air Force base commanders already have the authority to grant airmen permission to open or conceal carry their firearms. Maj. Keith Quick, an Air Force Security Forces Integrated Defense action officer, was interviewed for the piece, where he said–among other things–that the Unit Marshall Program allows airmen to get the proper training so they can open carry their M9 handguns. They can also use deadly force in self-defense, but Quick stressed that they do not act in a law enforcement capacity:
Three programs authorize commanders at all levels -- as long as they have authorization from the base commander -- to allow conceal-carry or open-carry on the installation.Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a naturalized American citizen, who was born in Kuwait, committed the 2015 Chattanooga spree shooting. He murdered four Marines and a U.S. sailor in the two attacks on military recruitment stations. It wasn’t until President Obama’s December 6 address in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting that he referred to this incident as an act of terrorism
"None of these programs gives the installation commander authorizations they didn't already have the authorization to do," Maj. Keith Quick, the Air Force Security Forces Integrated Defense action officer, said. "We are now formalizing it and telling them how they can use these types of programs more effectively."
Quick said three programs established by the Air Force Security Forces Integrated Defense team enable commanders to beef up security through conceal-carry. The programs are the Unit Marshal, Security Forces Staff Arming and Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act programs.Under the Unit Marshall Program, unit commanders can have airman to train under Security Forces personnel and open-carry an M9 pistol at their duty location.
Airmen selected for UMP would be instructed in use of force, weapons retention and weapons training. The role of these airmen would be to protect themselves, their immediate work space and the people within it, Quick said.
Any Air Force security force member who has the appropriate Air Force specialty code and is current on all of their qualifications may qualify for the program. The goal is to put trained defenders in places around the base where they could immediately act in the event of an active-shooter or other threat, Quick said.