Military Gun Control


January 19, 2003, 06:28 AM
Someone asked a couple of weeks ago that I start a thread on this topic. To that person I say "Here you are, Sir.":

In the U.S. Army, weapons are very tightly controlled, and kept away from the troops when not either in the field training or in a combat zone.

I have not been able to ascertain precisely when this practice began, but the best I can tell is immediately after World War Two.

What are the reasons for this? Why are the troops of the freest nation on earth denied access to the very arms they will be required to bear in times of conflict?

There are two reasons I can come up with for this policy, whether valid or not:

1. Safety. I myself served with many soldiers who had never held a weapon until thier arrival at Basic Training. I do not ever recall ever hearing any lecture on the safe rules of firearms handling during my entire period of enlistment. The two dumbest individuals I can call to mind off the top of my head were fellow soldiers. Alchoholism and drug use were rampant at the time.

Given all of the above, I believe that the powers that be decided it safer that the troopies not be allowed access to thier weapons, least they shoot one another.

2. Control. Unarmed troops are going to have a harder time rebelling against an unpopular government than armed ones.
To quote Jeff Cooper: "If you are not sure of the reliability, loyalty, or trustworthiness of your troops you had better not give them rifles."--To Ride, Shoot Straight, And Speak The Truth--pg173

I myself do not think that reason number two, given above, is a valid reason.(Although I am quite sure that there are those who do. Bill Clinton comes to mind.) At the time the practice began, there was no reason at all to question the fidelity of our troops, and there has not been since then, notwithstanding the mess the Army was in after Vietnam.

If anyone can point historically to the precise moment that this policy began, and the reasons for its implementaion, I would be grateful.

The above is in no way meant to be disparaging toward our military. I am a veteran, and proud of my service, and proud of the excellent job being done by our troops today.

If you enjoyed reading about "Military Gun Control" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
January 19, 2003, 06:47 AM
During Vietnam they even disarmed (some) of the troops in a combat zone. Several bases locked up the guns and ammo when the troops came in from the field.

Don't know how things are/were in the other branches, but when I was in the Navy, there was no real need for us to be armed all of the time as part of our military duties. We could have private firearms but if we lived on base or on a boat, they had to be turned into the armory and checked out to shoot.

The bases were protected by armed Marines and the submarine had a token (and/or sacrificial) armed topside watch while in port. We had an assortment of small arms in the submarine to arm us whenever we were handling nuclear weapons or if it was required, to repel boards in the event the base or port was attacked. Since the safest place for us was at sea, whenever something was going on, especially protests and such when visiting overseas ports, we simply pulled out into the ocean, popped the cork and vanished.

January 19, 2003, 07:35 AM
As a current member of the military (firearms instructor), there are a lot of people on any given base that should not have access to guns on a regular basis. Wife beaters, drunks, rowdy troops, idiots, etc.

I think most of the reason for keeping guns away from the troops is simply a safety thing. I mean who wants guns in the dormitories, while the GI's are drinking and carring on...all the fights that ensue...Plus I think it would be rather difficult to account for guns on a base if everyone and anyone could just come check one out.

At most of the bases I have been it was ok to have your personally owned guns in your residence, provided you lived in housing on or off base. Dormitories were a different story, no weapons of any sort were allowed in there. Too many incidents of stupid stuff happening in the dorms with the young guys.

What business do normal military troops have now days for access to military weapons anyway, it's not like Uncle Sam can afford to simply hand out ammo for proficiency training or allow anyone to fire when they want to. Those days are long gone fellas.

January 19, 2003, 07:43 AM
The main reasons are safety: Bored troops = accidental discharges, horse play is quite common in the barracks. Ready access to weapons increase the number that are stolen and sold on the black market, I might not sell mine but I'll sell yours. Also, many countries our troops are stationed in demand this security measure in order to keep our guns out of the hands of their citizens and/or rebel factions. To my memory this policy has worked quite well. I know of no incident in recent history where un-armed U.S. troops were killed because they were in their barracks and didn't have ready access to their weapons OR their having access to their weapons would have changed the outcome. If this was an unwise policy, you can be sure Congress would have investigated a long time ago.

January 19, 2003, 08:47 AM
by every range officer and every civilian authority because it is TRUE. "Clear it and clean it, load it and shoot it then clear it and clean it". Thats why there are so many nonfiring NCOs and officers behind the firing line, just to ensure that no-one shoots themselves or anyone else.
Point #2, from '48 to '59 I served in the CMF and took my rifle; a L/E 303, home with me and when in barracks it was there with me also. When the SLR was adopted this practice ceased and all weapons were kept in the base armoury or; as when on RAAF rookies '70, were kept under lockup in the barracks.
I can only assume that general rank officers are like politicians and fear an uprising of the masses.
As a footnote; during political unrest in the '70s we (all ranks) were told that we could only bear arms if an officer unlocked the armoury with a key!

January 19, 2003, 09:00 AM
Here's another reason: They belong to Uncle Sam and he doesn't want them to be stolen and then sold off post to any number scumbags that you happen to find in military towns. They are usually stored with other sensitive and high dollar items such as NVG's. I really don't think it has as much to do with safety as some would believe.

January 19, 2003, 09:36 AM
Your little dealy of a statement at the bottom of your post tells it all! Try pissing on 'my' cheese and you little buddy will lose more than your freedom. I think you are a very immature fellow!

January 19, 2003, 10:38 AM
either on the installation or off-base in what we call Capehart Housing, you are required to register your firearms with your unit orderly room. At least, that's what they're doing in Space Command as of a couple years ago. :fire:

January 19, 2003, 10:48 AM
My guess would be they are trying to prevent theft.

A full auto M 4 is worth about half a years salary to a private, isnt it?

January 19, 2003, 10:56 AM

It is definately not true that all bases to require registration of privately owned weapons on the base. And most that do only keep the list for short periods of time. As a AF cop, I know this is true because I have researched it by calling several bases from different commands within the last three years.

There used to be a listing that the L.E. Desk Sergeant (Dispatcher) had at his/her disposal, that listed all registered guns on the base, so if you were responding to a residence, he/she could alert you if there were weapons in the house. This listing has disappeared on most if not all bases.

Was a nice product for responding patrols and several times helped save my A$$.

Art Eatman
January 19, 2003, 10:59 AM
I went through Basic Training at Fort Bliss, El Paso, TX, in early 1954. We were issued Garands, which we kept in a rack in our five-man huts. I vaguely recall that the strict controls were for ammo. We had no problems of anybody shooting at someone else. Rifle inspection was part of the after-breakfast formation, held before the day's training.

Dumb guys? They were easily kept out of trouble. They spent their free time trying to memoriz the rifle's serial number. After memorizing their own serial number. No problem.

:), Art

January 19, 2003, 11:04 AM
Because it never happened to me while stationed at a Systems Command or Air Combat Command base.

Which leads me to believe the policy is dictated by the 4-star chief of that respective command. It may have something to do with the metrics generated by the SP blotter on domestic violence, suicides, and other factors recorded in base housing.

Which is rather ironic, I'd expected to see a similar policy in place when I was TDY to Minot for a month. Nope, no such thing. ;)

And then there was the DUI rate for Offutt a year or so ago. Kept seeing unit commanders playing gate guard. :(

Gabby Hayes
January 19, 2003, 12:29 PM
I'm with Art. In 1966 when I went through ROTC summer camp in Pennsylvania, the barracks were FULL of Garands in open rifle racks in each squad bay. I don't recall having any theft problems, or anyone taking an M1 downtown and shooting up the place. A year later at Ft. Bliss, TX, there wasn't time to train us with the .45 pistol, so we were allowed to sign them out of the arms room (along with ammo) and drive out into the vast, mostly-empty range areas to 'train' ourselves. Several buddies and I spent weekends scaring the bejezus out of the local jackrabbit herd. No theft problem that I can recall, nor neighborhoods being shot up. By 1970 when I returned to Texas, we had welded-steel arms room doors with locks the size of your fist. :mad:

January 19, 2003, 12:46 PM
Your little dealy of a statement at the bottom of your post tells it all! Try pissing on 'my' cheese and you little buddy will lose more than your freedom.

You're making silly threats based on SONG LYRICS and I'm immature? Besides, what did that have to do with my post, anyway?

I'm pretty sure that there are no Army posts that DO NOT require registration of firearms with the post Provost Marshal's office and I can't imagine that the rest of the military is any different. That obviously doesn't mean it is so, of course. I just have a hard time believing it.

January 19, 2003, 02:57 PM
Israeli army practically never does that. You see off-duty soldiers with rifles, underslung grenade launchers etc. everyday here, and Israeli soldiers have a BAD safety record.

January 19, 2003, 03:11 PM
Israeli army practically never does that.

One reason is because Isreal is so small and completely surrounded by the "enemy". They don't have time to pass out weapons.

They also have a very different view of gun control and handling criminals than we do. It's not uncommon to see average citizens walking around with full auto weapons slung on their shoulder.

In the US, that would send half the population into cardiac arrest.

January 19, 2003, 03:14 PM
Israel, unfortunately, has some of the harshest gun control laws on the planet. Average people (unless they live on the Territories) have practically no access to guns. Of any sort, much less automatic ones. I know, I live here.

4v50 Gary
January 19, 2003, 03:17 PM
Must come from our Pre-Revolutionary War days when all the guns were stored in a rack. Numbers use to be painted onto the stock so at a glance, you'd know which was yours and where it went on the rack. Good for inventory (as mentioned earlier, theft could be a problem) even back in the old days (we don't have the problem today, but soldiers in search of drink & gambling money would do it).

January 19, 2003, 04:03 PM
have practically no access to guns

Really? I didn't know that. You must have a whole lot of people in the military then because the video and pictures I see are generally full of people walking around in civilian clothes with M4's or similar.

January 19, 2003, 04:08 PM
Many are in the military, true, but they are usually in uniforms. However, most people you see on TV are settlers from the territories. They have access to guns (funded by taxpayers).

January 19, 2003, 06:27 PM
As for the organic weapons that a unti has, the tight control is mainly due to physical security. Bad guys like to steal US military weapons and it has happened many times.

Many years a go at Ft. Lewis Wa., there was a group of bad guys holding up troops in the field at night and taking their M-16s. The troops were on training problems, of course only having blanks, and these crooks would push a pistol in their face and make them hand over the rifle.

There's other reason too, like not having liquered up troops coming back to their weapons on a Friday. And if you havn't experienced an infatry barracks around 2 a.m. on aSaturday morning, then you've missed something.

It has nothing to do with "gun control" or keeping weapons away from the troops so they don't rebel, overthrow the gov't or other such tin hat ideas.

If you enjoyed reading about "Military Gun Control" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!