In response to deadly shootings over the last several years, the Defense Department is reducing restrictions on U.S. military service members' ability to carry concealed handguns for protection at government facilities.
The new directive, which went into effect Nov. 18, says service members, including military recruiters, can now request to carry their privately-owned firearms, Army Maj. Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman, told the Military Times on Monday.
Service members were already authorized to carry government-issued weapons as part of their job responsibilities.
The policy follows deadly shooting incidents over the past seven years, including one last year at a Chattanooga, Tenn., recruiting center where five service members were shot and killed by a gunman. After the July shooting, Defense Secretary Ash Carter wrote a memo to military commanders and civilian leaders, asking them to come up with new security plans at military facilities, which opened the door to the possibility to more service members carrying firearms.
The new directive has some restrictions.
Each authorization can last up to 90 calendar days, but can be renewed. Service members can be disqualified for firearm authorization if they have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice "for any offense that calls into question the individual's right to carry a firearm" or if they have been convicted or face charges in civilian courts, according to the directive.
Participating individuals are not permitted to bring their firearms to off-base locations already under the protection of police or security guards.