FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- The Fort Huachuca Exchange is now selling firearms and ammunition, the only place on the fort that will have weapons for sale in stock at all times.

The firearms were first sold starting Feb. 9, but the grand opening took place on Feb. 16 -- Saturday where eight free weapons were given away in five raffles held over the three-day period. More than 60 weapons were sold over the three-day period, while roughly 80 have been sold since the firearms section officially opened.

"It's a relatively new program in the Exchange and different approval from different commands had to be passed first. We actually started the process in September 2010, when we received garrison approval, but then we had to go through many more steps," said store manager Christine Harlan. "Every time someone purchases a gun, we escort them to the exit and hand them the weapon outside, not at the register, and every gun is sold with a trigger lock," she added.

Fort Huachuca Exchange will carry anywhere from 200 to 250 weapons at any given time. Harlan said. "I am very excited about it; as long as we do things legally and lawfully, I think it is a good business for the community and the base. I think part of it being successful is the contribution back to [Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation]. Our Soldiers know that the money they spend in here, part of that goes back into services for Fort Huachuca, and that's a great thing we provide that not everyone else does," Harlan said.

"A lot of requests were made from customers about us carrying weapons. People were driving to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to make their purchases, as well as all the other Exchange companies in the state already carried firearms, so it just seemed right," said Libby Leon, firearms manager.

"I am really impressed. I was going to Davis Monthan which is about 75 miles away so it is more convenient and they have a pretty awesome selection" said Steve Page, retired Army.
The Exchange now also carries holsters, magazines, cleaning supplies, gun cases and more. Before, military personnel could only purchase weapons on a-special-order-only bases from the Sportsman's Center on Fort Huachuca. They have not stocked weapons in three to four years, but they are still taking special orders.

Staff Sgt. Scott Hillman, noncommissioned officer in charge, Staff and Faculty, was looking at a single shot 223 and said, "it is about time, I am very happy with the addition of the firearm department."

Those who purchase guns on Fort Huachuca and who wish to maintain or transport a privately owned weapon on the installation must register the weapon(s) with the Directorate of Emergency Services Weapon Registration Office immediately after purchase. The storage of privately owned weapons on-post in family, bachelor, officer, or enlisted quarters, excluding those located in barracks, is authorized provided people have permission from their commander and that appropriate safety and security measures are applied, according to Lee Branham, deputy to the DES. He emphasized that for no reason can privately owned weapons be stored in the barracks.

For more information, call 533.1840.