Air Force tells brass they can OK guns on base, citing 2015 shooting that left 5 dea

A review of active shooter cases by the Air Force has confirmed what gun rights advocates have long been saying: Firearms in the hands of good guys are often the best bet for stopping massacres.

The military branch earlier this month sent out a letter to its base commanders around the nation reminding them that they can authorize subordinates to carry guns, even while off-duty and out of uniform. It also established three programs to help ensure that armed service members are in a position to protect their bases.

“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 in a statement according to “We are now formalizing it and telling them how they can use these types of programs more effectively.”

“Finally, someone in the federal government is recognizing what has been obvious to sheriffs and police across the country…”

– John Lott, Crime Prevention Research Center

The memo followed a review by the Air Force of “active-shooter incidents across the country,” which was spurred by last July’s attack on a recruiting office and nearby reserve center in Chattanooga, Tenn., in which four Marines and a Navy sailor were killed.

In that attack, Muhammad Youseef Abdulazeez’s rampage only ended when responding police shot him. But an ensuing investigation determined that the base’s commanding officer fired at Abdulazeez with his personal weapon and one of the murdered Marines had an unauthorized 9-mm. Glock on him when he was killed.

In the aftermath of the shooting, questions were raised regarding one of the military officers involved in the shootout, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White, and if charges would be filed against him for discharging a firearm on federal property. Nothing has been formally filed.

“The investigation is still working its way through the leadership process,” Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a spokeswoman for the Navy tells

Past reports have suggested that charges will not be filed against White.

Critics immediately asserted that armed military officers at the recruiting office where the rampage began, as well as more armed Navy personnel at the base, could have saved lives.

An Air Force spokesperson acknowledged to that the attack in Chattanooga was the reason for the review and outcome.

Quick said three programs established by the Integrated Defense team enable commanders to increase security through conceal-carry. One of the new initiatives, the Unit Marshal Program, enables commanders at every level permission to work with security forces to train Air Force members and allow them to open carry their M9 service pistol at their duty location.

The Security Forces Staff Arming program enables more security officers to carry a government-issued weapon while on duty.

“Finally, someone in the federal government is recognizing what has been obvious to sheriffs and police across the country,” John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told “Concealed handgun permit holders have stopped dozens of what would have clearly been mass public shootings.”

The U.S. military has always had the authority to allow open and conceal carry, but has mostly used discretion in allowing service members to tote weapons on bases.

“As far as I’m aware, it’s always been in the power of military commanders to make decisions of this nature,” Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Gun Violence tells “But the men and women leading our military understand their mission and the risks that come with barracks and mess halls full of guns.

“Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to embrace America’s degenerate gun culture. They won’t, and thank God given the potential implications for national defense.”


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