Family members and friends comfort each other as the final roll call is called out during an April 9 memorial service for the three soldiers killed at Fort Hood Texas, on April 2. The Marine Corps released a message after the shooting ordering commands to standardize firearm policies across the service. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
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In an effort to ensure that commanders are enforcing the same rules regarding privately owned firearms on base, the Marine Corps has issued new guidance to standardize policies across the entire service.
The message, which comes from Gen. John Paxton, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, does not revise or augment existing Marine orders or Defense Department policies, but it does require installation commanders to review and update their local directives governing personal firearms to ensure they are uniform across the service.
“We’ve had those standards in place for some time and this is reinforcement of those standards,” said Rex Runyon, a Marine Corps Installations Command spokesman. “The MARADMIN is to ensure consistency among the Marine Corps installations. One of the purposes of this is to clarify any uncertainties that may come up in existing orders.”
The message, released just days after the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed fourCQ and wounded 16, is the result of a “comprehensive review of service policy related to the handling, storage, and accountability of privately owned firearms and ammunition aboard our installations.” The review was sparked by the Sept. 16 Navy Yard shooting in Washington.
“You go back to the Navy Yard — that was one of the triggers for this,” Runyon said. “But, there have been other incidents on base — the incident at Quantico — so since they have been working on this... So no, this is not directly in response to the second incident at Fort Hood. We already had it in the works and it coincidentally came out at this time.”
The review ultimately found that while current Marine Corps policy does address the possession, security, registration and storage of personally owned firearms, “there is no overarching prescriptive instruction adequately governing the use and handling of privately owned firearms aboard installations at either the DoD or Marine Corps level,” according to Marine administrative message 175/14, signed April 3.
There could be Defense Department policy changes on the horizon, however. The message is characterized as interim guidance until “DoD guidance is updated.”
All commanders must now ensure their local guidance includes directions that:
■ Prohibit privately owned firearms in all federal facilities, government leased spaces and government vehicles.
■ Prohibit carrying private, concealed weapons on base.
■ Ensure all private firearms stored on base are registered with the provost marshal.
■ Prohibit storage of private firearms and ammunition in bachelor enlisted quarters.
■ Re-emphasize compliance with regulations for storage of private firearms and ammunition in government family housing.
■ Require all personal firearms to be stored in a fully encased container that can be locked. Additionally firearms must have a trigger lock.
■ Require ammunition to be stored separate from firearms in a locked container.
■ Prohibit the storing of private firearms in a vehicle on base.
■ Require personnel to abide by local, state and federal firearms laws.
Commanders running armories where personal firearms are stored must also ensure all firearms are accounted for daily. Firearms whose ownership cannot be determined must be disposed of according to Marine Corps Order 5530.14A and DoD Manual 5100.76.