Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Air Force Weapon Story

It got brought up this week over an item that the US Air Force put out....which was a friendly reminder from Air Force Headquarters to each base.....qualified airmen may carry firearms on base.

Some people felt this meant some change, and that it was a big flip for the Air Force.

Well....there's been this standard policy on the books where a wing commander has the authority to grant airmen permission to openly carry or conceal firearms. It typically fell into two got a request from some NCO to drive upon the base with a pistol in his possession in the vehicle.  The pistol would remain in the vehicle, and not be carried into the building.  The second category, which as far as I knew from the 1990s.....rarely was given approval.....the carrying and concealment of firearms....meaning you could come on base, and walk into your building....with the weapon in your possession.

This topic gets picked up for various debates and conversations.

In Louisiana when I was stationed there in the 1980s....there were guys who'd come onto work on a Friday....and have their hunting weapons in the truck.....anticipation of getting off early and leaving for an entire weekend of hunting.

None of these guys ever asked least as far as I knew....and simply were going to be lucky if the SP's ever stopped the vehicle for an inspection.  If they were stopped, their gimmick was to say they were on the way to Armory on deposit their guns until the end of the day (something that was totally legal).

From the three year period that I was stationed in Tucson....there just wasn't much of a need to haul a weapon around because it was relatively safe throughout the city and the base (at least we felt that way).

A change in perception by people and their safety factor?  I'm pretty well convinced that people generally don't feel safe today.  They look more closely at where they shop....where they stop at an ATM machine....where they buy gas.....where their kids go to school....and read the local crime stories in their newspaper.

What will happen with this suggestion?  It's simply a reminder that this option occurs, and some Colonel or one-star General will discuss it at some meeting.

There are a thousand things which require a waiver on a typical Air Force installation.  Some can be granted by a mere Captain....some go all the way to a full-bird Colonel.

I was briefly assigned to Bitburg Air Base years ago, and came to a point where I was briefly going to own three vehicles.  You would think that it really wouldn't matter for this 90-day period that I'd have three vehicles....but the Air Force Headquarters in Europe had this regulation.  It said you were limited to vehicles unless you got a waiver signed by the Wing Commander.

I remember looking at the idiot Captain telling me this and asking if this were really necessary for the Wing Commander to sign this.  "Yes" was the only answer.  So I asked for the was a two-line simple letter that simply said I was buying a third vehicle and there would be a period where such an event was necessary.  I took the note up to the Wing Commander's office.....his secretary stamped his name onto the bottom....he walked up and she had like six such letters for the day of the same variety, and he signed all six in 30 seconds.

After this event, it made me wonder how many times a month that each Wing Commander had to sign a hundred-odd waivers like that, and how many times was this guy signing something for the sake of signing it.

So you look at this....would the Wing Commander just glance at some stack of fifteen-odd requests for some NCO, officer or airman to bring a gun on base and just sign it.....or get all fearful and invent a dozen reasons to question this waiver?  It's hard to say.

You can imagine a work environment like a typical base.....where every single military individual has qualified with the M-16 rifle as a minimum, and twenty-percent have qualified for the M9 pistol.  They all passed gun safety classes (some twenty times over) and the Air Force will proudly tell Senators that their guys are prepared for a firefight at any installation.  Would the same commanders be happy knowing that 2,000 individuals are on base.....with a pistol on themselves?  I have doubts.