FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Firearms enthusiasts can set their sights on a new place to shop for various guns now available for purchase at the Post Exchange.

Buyers began hunting for deals Dec. 15 at the 590-square-foot firearms department located in the garden center near sporting goods. Brand name, tax-free weapons displayed are sold at lower prices than local or chain stores, according to PX Manager Ellen Rutledge.

Rutledge said she is excited to provide her patrons a new, long-awaited line of wares, following a lengthy survey process determining community demographics and weapons desires.

"We have a chance to bring our customers what they collect and buy," she said.

U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker Commander Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III was one of several post leaders to attend the grand opening and peruse the new merchandise.
"This is a plus for us. It's a great addition to not only active-duty Soldiers but our retirees who are avid outdoorsmen," he said.

Master Sgt. James Parris, B Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, who also checked out the new department earlier this week, said he feels the addition to the PX is beneficial because proceeds are returned to community members through Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs and services.

Rutledge noted customers must be aware of Alabama and post regulations before buying weapons and people intending to purchase weapons undergo FBI background checks prior to sales transactions.

Active-duty military members with other state residencies who wish to obtain firearms are required to provide permanent change of station orders for here, Rutledge said. Out-of-state Family members residing here must have their names listed on PCS orders to purchase guns. Temporary duty orders will not suffice for anyone.

Rutledge said non-Alabama residents may only purchase long guns, rifles and shotguns. Residents of adjoining states - Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi - may only purchase long guns. One stipulation Rutledge noted is long gun purchases may be made by non-Alabama residents only if their states of residency do not have laws restricting such purchases. PX staff have all state gun laws available for reference.

Customers must be 18 or older to purchase ammunition and long guns and 21 years of age or older to purchase hand guns. All weapon and ammunition sales are final, Rutledge added. After proper residency documentation is shown and FBI background checks are clear, customers must read and sign paperwork stating they agree to follow Fort Rucker weapons regulations.

On-post firearms owners must register guns with Military Police within 72 hours of purchase, Rutledge said.

MP staff provides weapon registration forms at the department's Bldg. 5001 front desk. Information necessary for registration includes serial and model numbers, barrel length and type of gun, said Department of the Army Civilian Police Officer Scott Blanchard. Staff sergeants and below must obtain approval and signatures from unit commanders in order to register weapons.
Strict on-post rules regarding weapon storage and transportation provide security for community members, officials said.

Weapons may only be transported on the installation traveling directly to and from the privately owned weapons range, hunting areas or sporting events, Blanchard explained. Under no conditions should owners leave guns in their cars. When transporting weapons on post, guns must be in locked boxes or be secured with gun locks. Ammunition must be stored in separate car compartments, Blanchard noted.

Concealed weapons are not allowed on post unless carried by a certified law enforcement officer on duty, he said. Personnel living in barracks must store weapons in their unit's armories and on-post housing residents may secure guns in their quarters.

The firearms department is open during regular PX hours - Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call the PX at 503-9044 and the MP station at 255-2222.