Gun laws a minefield for military


February 11, 2003, 12:07 AM

Sunday, February 9, 2003

Gun laws a minefield for military

The Orange County Register

As thousands of U.S. military personnel in California deploy to the Persian Gulf in preparation for war, some of them are having a serious problem.

They can't get guns.

Oh sure, the military provides them with an array of weapons: M-16s, grenade launchers, squad automatic weapons and so on. They're heavily armed.

But a lot of military types, particularly guys in special-operations units, like to supplement some of the standard-issue weaponry with privately purchased handguns and gun-related equipment of their own choosing. Often the handguns and equipment they can buy in the private market are better and more advanced than the standard-issue stuff.

But getting those handguns can be a big problem in California, which has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Although law enforcement personnel are exempted from many of the restrictions on purchasing firearms, military personnel stationed in California are not - even if they're on their way to a combat zone.

"It's a sad state of affairs," says Evan Carolyn, a former Marine who owns Evan's Gunsmithing and Shooter's World in Orange. "There's no way for us to assist these guys in getting the best stuff they can."

For example, recently some members of a special-operations unit - I'm not supposed to say which unit - told Evan they wanted to buy some compact 9-millimeter handguns as personal backup weapons before they shipped out. Unfortunately, there's a 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases in California - and the unit had to leave before the waiting period was up.

And even if they had bought the handguns, they would have had to make do with 10-round magazines instead of the 13-round magazines the weapons are capable of holding. That's because California law bans the sale of "large capacity" magazines - more than 10 rounds - to anyone but police officers.

"We're seeing this kind of thing all the time," Evan says. "This is how we're treating the military in California."

Spokesmen for the state Attorney General's Office, which regulates firearms sales, told me they were aware of the problem involving military personnel and firearms restrictions - but there's not much they can do about it. Even if he wanted to, the attorney general can't waive any of the statutory restrictions on gun sales - not even for guys headed off to war.

And as for the state Legislature amending the gun laws to exempt military personnel under certain special circumstances - well, don't hold your breath. After all, they're the same guys who passed these silly, ineffective laws in the first place.

So that's the situation we have today in California. Apparently we trust our military personnel to handle tanks, machine guns, missiles, grenades, mortars, howitzers, aircraft carriers, submarines, jets, bombs and nuclear weapons. And after making them wait a week-and-a-half, we even trust them enough to let them buy a handgun that holds ten rounds.

But they'd better not ask for one that holds eleven.

If you enjoyed reading about "Gun laws a minefield for military" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
February 11, 2003, 06:49 AM
I don't know how much validity there is to that article. When I was in the military, we were told before deployment that privately owned weapons were absolutely, positively, forbidden. Now, that does not mean that there were some that probably did not have them; but I believe that for the most part troops did not have privately owned weapons available.

Does anyone else have any recent experience to the contrary?

February 11, 2003, 07:35 AM
our deployment orders for exercises routinely said 'no dogs, pets or personal firearms'.
The reasons will include uniformity of equipment, legal liability, and military discipline generally.

February 11, 2003, 08:29 AM
For regular army, the rule of late has been no personal firearms. However I believe that the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has different rules from the regular army and they are usually allowed to buy and use personal weapons to supplement their own.

February 11, 2003, 10:59 AM
Well, all I know is that if things get really nasty, to the point where they're calling up 42 year old fat guys, I'm bringing my .308 and .22-250, with a whole bunch of rounds...

I had a friend who was in Vietnam, and he said that the first letter he sent home had a request for his Browning shotgun. Which arrived, and had a bunch of hacksaw work done on it.

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