Know the Rules to Owning, Carrying a Weapon
Do you have a gun in your car or BEQ room?
Do you have a permit to carry the weapon?
Did you know there are separate and more stringent requirements to transport and store your personal gun onboard a Navy installation?
Do you know the consequences of illegally possessing a gun in town or on an installation?
There has been an alarming number of recent incidents in which a Sailor was illegally in possession, transporting or using a firearm.
“Since September 1st (2008), we have received reports of 19 separate incidents, to include six incidents in the month of February (2009) alone, in which a Sailor was illegally in possession of a firearm,” Lt. Cmdr. Alan Gilmore, current/future operations officer for Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. “Those incidents range anywhere from police finding a gun during a vehicle search after a service member had been pulled over for a DUI, to threatening to use a weapon, to committing murder.”
According to CNRMA instruction 5820.2 a firearm is any device which, when operated, propels an object (to exclude bows and arrows) or any device that produces a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation, and includes blank pistols, air guns, BB guns, electrical weapon (stun guns etc.) and ammunition.
While federal and state laws differ widely on the subject, regulations pertaining to the registration, transportation, and storage of firearms on Naval Installations in the Mid-Atlantic area of responsibility are clear. According to the instruction, all hands share responsibility for adhering to regulations pertaining to the registration, transportation, and storage of firearms in the AOR.
First, state issued “concealed weapons permits” are not recognized on any Navy installation.
Second, prior to bringing a firearm onboard an installation, the owner must submit a letter to the installation commanding officer via his or her unit commanding officer. Upon approval by the installation commanding officer, the owner will be provided a card showing proof that he or she is authorized to carry a personal firearm. This card must be carried by the individual transporting the firearms and surrendered if requested by naval security forces. Additionally, personnel who have firearms on board an installation are required to update their information cards annually.
Also, personal firearms may only be stored in the installation’s armory, and there are very specific guidelines regarding individuals convicted of criminal offenses and weapon ownership. Any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime of domestic violence is prohibited from possessing and/or transporting any private firearm or ammunition onboard naval installations.
Additionally, any person convicted of committing any felony, may have his/her permission to possess and/or transport any private firearm revoked by the installation commanding officer.
If a Sailor gets caught and charged with illegally carrying or using a firearm, the penalties could be very severe.
“The instruction is a lawful general order,” said Lt. Cmdr. Art Record, Staff Judge Advocate, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. “Violations are punishable under Article 92, Uniform Code of Military Justice, by two years confinement, dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and reduction to pay grade E-1.”
Record added, “A Sailor could potentially lose their clearance for a weapons-related offense, such as unauthorized possession. For ratings that require a security clearance, a Sailor who lost their clearance could be re-assigned to another rating. That could have additional consequences, such as loss of special pays or recoupment of bonuses.” Transporting weapons on board an installation is also regulated.
All firearms will be unloaded and secured with a trigger lock and ammunition must be carried in the farthest most possible location away from the firearm prior to transporting on an installation. Firearms found in violation will be confiscated by security department personnel and held until after resolution of the charges.
These policies apply to all Sailors and civilian employees regardless if assigned to a ship, submarine, aircraft squadron or ashore command.
“Sharing with our Sailors how to rent space at a range for storage of the weapon and discussing the need to have adequate training for maintenance, upkeep, and use of the weapon is a necessary discussion for all Chiefs to have with our Sailors,” said Command Master Chief (AW/SW/SCW) Scott Benning, Command Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
“Fifty-four is a small number in relation to the population of Sailors in the Mid-Atlantic Region, but this is only those that have been identified. I am sure there are many others that have shown the capability to do this correctly and responsibly. However, we need to reach out and engage all on this important topic,” Benning said.
It is important to note that these guidelines pertain to installations. Each state has their own rules and regulations that govern an individual’s right to have or carry a weapon.
According to www.vsp.state.va.us, the state of Virginia does not require firearm registration nor is it necessary to obtain a permit before carrying a firearm or other such weapon openly about the person except where prohibited by statute. Pursuant to 18.2-308 of the Code of Virginia, resident concealed handgun permits are issued by the circuit court of the jurisdiction in which the applicant resides, and nonresident concealed handgun permits are issued by the Virginia State Police.
Though guidelines differ, the responsibility of ensuring Sailors make informed decisions, lies securely in the hands of leadership, Benning said.
“The influence of our Chiefs in this area can not be under estimated,” Benning said. “There are programs out there to help Sailors make informed decisions.
“This is another example how the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions can be utilized. Sailors are making destructive decisions, potentially life threatening decisions,” he added. “Whether their decisions stem from poor decisions or just not knowing, CSADD is a guide to help Sailors steer away from making poor and destructive decisions by providing them with the information to make the right decision.”