If you're thinking about bringing a weapon to Fort Jackson, you might first want to familiarize yourself with the installation's rules and regulations governing firearms. What applies outside of the gates doesn't always apply on post, warns Lt. Col. Johnny Sellers, Provost Marshall and director of Fort Jackson's Directorate of Emergency Services.

While traffic at the gates brings a variety of people to the installation from all over the world, this traffic can be broken down into three essential categories: People who work here, people who live here, and temporary visitors.

Post officials said regulations are in place to assist everyone who might need to bring a weapon to Fort Jackson. These policies require diligence on the part of the weapons owner and the guards at the gates.

"The guard must be told that there are weapons being brought inside the installation," said Sgt. Maj. Hermes Acevedo, with the Directorate of Emergency Services. Soldiers, employees and "residents of the installation, including Department of Defense retirees, must register their weapons."

And this registration must be presented at the time of entry, he said.

"If you decide to hunt on Fort Jackson, you need to make sure whatever weapons you're using are registered with the provost marshal," Sellers said.

If you don't live on Fort Jackson, there's no reason to register your weapon unless you intend to bring it on post, said Chief of Physical Security Fred Vasquez. Concealed weapons, though, are another matter entirely.

"Essentially, there are no concealed weapons allowed on the installation, with the exception of military and federal law enforcement, who have the authority to carry in the performance of their duties," Sellers said.

Still, even weapons being brought onto the installation that are already authorized by the Department of Defense must be declared at entry points, Acevedo said. Just because you have a concealed carry permit does not mean that permit is valid on Fort Jackson.

"Bringing a weapon into a federal building or onto a federal installation is against the law," Vasquez said.

"My office gets between 12 and 15 calls a month from people who are travelling, either from law enforcement or people with concealed carry permits, which ask about the policies."
There is no place on Fort Jackson to temporarily store firearms brought onto the installation.

"Most folks understand that things are a little bit different when you come onto a federal installation," Sellers said, "and they'll call ahead. Some will just elect not to take the weapon with them. There are strict security measures in place."

Weapons and ammunition must also be separated when entering the installation, he said. It's not simply a matter of making sure the weapon isn't loaded, either.

"The weapon and ammunition must be in two separate places of the vehicle," he said. "For example, the weapon could be in the (trunk) of the vehicle you're in, and the ammunition can be in the center console or the back of the vehicle. When you get to your residence, you need to secure that weapon in a proper location, which is usually a lock box, safe or some kind of trigger lock."

Weapons should be stored in the trunk of a vehicle, Acevedo said. For vehicles without a trunk, they need to be stored in a container other than glove box and carried in such a manner that they won't be readily available to either the driver or passengers.

Weapons are rarely confiscated by Fort Jackson, unless criminal activity is involved.

"We try not to confiscate weapons," Sellers said. "Every weapon we find at the gates or during a traffic stop, we run the serial numbers to make sure it's not stolen or has been used in a crime.

Otherwise, we try to turn it back over to the owner and let them take it (home.)

"We're not here to hem people up for something that might have been a mistake," he said. "But we also have a responsibility to secure the installation and ensure that everyone here is protected. That's the reasons we have these rules in place."

The Visitor Control Centers at Gates 2 and 4 have the ability to register weapons, Sellers said.

Weapons registration is conducted Monday through Friday at the Fort Jackson Physical Security Office, Bldg. 4394, Strom Thurmond Blvd. For more information, contact Chief Physical Security Fred Vasquez at 803-751-2005.