FORT SILL, Okla. -- In light of recent debates on firearm legislation and growing fears of a national registry being voted as an amendment, there are aspects that may relate to young patriotic Army Soldiers.

The Inspector General Office is aware Soldiers will more than likely purchase a firearm in the near future or already have a privately owned weapon (POW) before enlisting, but that they are not familiar with how All Army Activities messages (ALARCT), and Army and Installation regulations play a role on regulating POWs on an installation.

Some skeptics will claim that once you are in the military services you have practically signed away your rights. But, on the contrary, by empowering oneself with knowledge, you find that those rights do exist, but are not freely enacted because service members are held to a much higher standard and are expected to comply with lawful orders of their senior commanders.

Army Regulation 190-11, "Physical Security of Arms, Ammunition and Explosives," Paragraph 4-5a, states, "Carrying privately owned weapons, explosives and ammunition on Army installations is prohibited unless authorized by the senior commander. The senior commander has clear authority and responsibility to regulate privately owned weapons, explosives and ammunition on Army installations."

Regardless of whether a Soldier obtains a state or county permit, carrying a concealed weapon on the installation is prohibited. To clarify, a concealed weapon is any instrument used or designed for the purpose of inflicting grievous bodily harm that is carried on the person in such a way as to be hidden from ordinary view.

An officer, agent or employee of a federal agency, state or political subdivision are authorized to carry said weapon, provided they are in an on-duty status. The bottom line is Army Regulation 190-11 and the senior commander will stipulate control and storage measures for privately owned weapons on military installations and government facilities.

ALARACT message 063/2013, "Control and Reporting of Privately Owned Weapons," dated March 25, 2013, explains when a commander is allowed to regulate POWs stored off-post. One instance is if a Soldier is under investigation, prosecution or adjudication of an alleged violation of law, including whether a member of the armed forces constitutes a threat to the member or others. When a commander comes to a reasonable conclusion, based on direct observation and/or reports from friends, family or health care providers, that a Soldier is a threat to his or herself or others, the commander may initiate an investigation into the potential threat of violence. Upon initiation of an investigation, the commander is authorized to ask a Soldier whether or not he or she possesses any POWs that are kept off post.

Another exception allows commanders and health care professionals to inquire as to whether a Soldier owns or plans to acquire POWs if the commander or health care professional has reasonable ground to believe the Soldier is at risk for suicide or causing harm to others. If the Soldier has POWs off post, the commander may request the Soldier bring and store the weapons in the unit arms room. If the Soldier refuses to surrender his or her off-post POWs, the commander may restrict that Soldier to the installation based on safety concerns for him or her and others.

Commanders should initiate a command directed behavioral health evaluation through behavioral health specialty care to assess the Soldier's risk level and further inform the commander's decision. Commanders should seek advice from their servicing staff judge advocate before collecting any information concerning POWs maintained off-post.

In addition to the above regulation, ALARACT messages, Public Law 111-383 Section 1062, and the Second Amendment still apply to service members. Owning a firearm is a right, but also a great responsibility that all American citizens are expected to follow and execute.

For questions or more information, the Office of the Inspector General is at 1643 Randolph Road next to Nye Library. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except for regularly scheduled training and federal holidays. Our contact numbers are 442-3109/3224 or you may e-mail us at usarmy.sill.fcoe.mbx.fort-sill-inspector-generalmail.mil. Leave a message during nonduty hours, and we will return your call the next duty day.

Page last updated Fri June 14th, 2013 at 16:14