The Web’s Leading Military Blog Since 2004
Commanders Barred From Collecting Information on Troop Gun Ownership
I’ve had a few troops contact me asking me about something I wrote a little more than a year ago (post is now private due to frustration with censorship). It concerns Public Law 111-383, commonly called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA for short).
Thanks, in part, to efforts by the National Rifle Association and championed by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the NDAA contained a section specifically directed towards commanders collecting and maintaining information on troop gun ownership. Section 1062 of the Act specifically prohibits the Secretary of Defense from issuing any requirement, or collecting or recording any information, “relating to the otherwise lawful acquisition, possession, ownership, carrying, or other use of a privately owned firearm, privately owned ammunition, or another privately owned weapon by a member of the Armed Forces or civilian employee of the Department of Defense” on property not owned or operated by the DOD. In other words, troops living off post were not required to disclose and commanders were prohibited from demanding information about privately owned weapons of subordinates. Additionally, the Act allowed for 90 days during which previously collected information was required to be destroyed.
The issue arose out of a controversial policy on Ft. Riley that mandated that troops register all privately owned weapons on post regardless of whether they were located on or off base. Many troops choose to live off post to avoid having to report this information or keep their weapons in unit arms rooms. The regulation also required military families to register firearms. Ft. Riley and other posts expressly prohibited its troops from carrying weapons regardless of being licensed to do so. It was sort of ironic considering the nature of our mission as a troops to know, understand, and use weapons. Some posts even set limits on the types of calibers troops were allowed to own. These limits varied from post to post and also included limits on how much ammunition troops could own. Naturally, this forced some troops to pay more for ammunition because they weren’t allowed to buy in bulk.
Based on the half-dozen inquiries I’ve gotten over the past few weeks, it sounds as if there are commanders violating this law and still attempting to collect information from troops on gun ownership. As a leader, I have no problem simply asking if troops own guns, but I draw the line on violating duly enacted laws barring the collection of specific information related to the amount, type, and location of these guns. If you’d like to actually print out a copy of the law to show your leaders, HERE is a link to the PDF.