Arming of Recruiters

We are all deeply saddened by the recent shootings and killing of military recruiters in Chattanooga. In the wake of the killings, it has been asked why are recruiters (and military personnel in general) not allowed to carry firearms in the United States?

In answer to this question, we have been given a very weak response from our military leaders; a response that is not only weak, but flat out wrong. They have responded saying that the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. 1385) prohibits them from arming military personnel in the United States.

A “Posse Comitatus” is “a┬ábody of persons that a peace officer of a county is empowered to call upon for assistance in preserving the peace, making arrests, and serving writs.”

The Posse Comitatus Act is short and simple. It states, “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

The most glaring error in the thinking of military leaders that this Act prohibits them from arming military personnel, or allowing them to carry their personal firearms in the United States is that the Act does not apply to all military personnel. It only applies to the Army and Air Force. The recruiting station in Chattanooga was manned with Sailors and Marines who are not covered by the Act! The act was last updated in 1994 and Congress could have included the Navy and Marine Corps at that time (or at any time in our Nation’s history) if Congress wanted the Act to apply to all military personnel.

A second flaw in the reasoning that the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the arming of military personnel in the United States, is that the Act only prohibits the use of Soldiers and Airmen “to execute the laws.” Nothing in the Act prohibits military personnel from possessing firearms on duty and in uniform for the purposes of self-defense or to defend the lives of others. The Act prohibits using Soldiers and Airmen to effectuate arrests, conduct traffic control, conduct searches and seizures of civilians, or otherwise execute of enforce the laws, but it certainly does not prohibit military personnel from possessing firearms while in uniform and on duty for the purpose of self-defense and to defend others.

It was wrong to disarm our military personnel in the first place. With our current fight against terrorism where there are no battle lines, with terrorist cells now present in the United States, and after attacks like the ones in Chattanooga and Fort Hood, it is past time that we correct this wrong and allow our military personnel throughout the country to carry firearms while on duty and in uniform.

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