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Privately owned weapons on Barksdale AFB

By Maj. Mark Breed 2nd Bomb Wing Security Forces commander

With hunting season in full swing and the number of personnel receiving "concealed carry" permits on the rise, it is a good time to discuss the rules of bringing and transporting privately owned weapons onto the installation. The topic is common in most workplaces around base, and I get asked the question on a frequent basis. Before you take advice from a Monday morning lawyer or resident expert on the "dos" and "don'ts" you first need to understand the issues, and the actual laws that govern where you as a private citizen or military member can carry or possess weapons.

It is important to understand that there are several different laws and instructions in play when it comes to privately owned weapons on base. The first is the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, which covers all military members on active duty and Reservists on Title 10 orders. The second is Title 18 United States Code and with it any state laws (Louisiana Revised Statutes) which assimilate state and federal laws for prosecution in federal court. Finally, the Air Force and wing mandate certain restrictions on POW storage, possession and transport through applicable instructions and plans.

Let's begin by discussing storage of POWs. Air Force Instruction 31-101, "Integrated Defense" and the 2 Bomb Wing Integrated Defense Plan require that all POWs stored on the installation be registered by each individual through their unit with the 2nd Security Forces armory. Resident storage of POWs is authorized in base privatized housing. Dormitory residents are not authorized to store POWs in their rooms. They must register and store their POWs in the 2 SFS armory. Transporting POWs is always a source of concern with the number of hunting and shooting activities both on and off base. Personnel are allowed to transport POWs on and off the installation to approved and authorized weapons-related activities.

Along with transporting POWs, the most contentious issue when it comes to firearms, is the ability to carry a weapon "open" or "concealed". The ability of private citizens or military members to carry a weapon differ greatly when it comes to entering the base. Barksdale Air Force Base has "exclusive" federal jurisdiction, meaning it is owned by the federal government and is policed by military and federal police assigned to here. Military members on base are subject to the UCMJ and the policies and procedures directed by the wing commander. Civil servants and civilian contractors are subject to both the laws of Title 18 USC and base policies. Louisiana state law, like "Louisiana's Castle Doctrine", gives Louisiana residents the right to defend themselves in their vehicles and implies one can transport a POW in their vehicle; however LA Revised Statute 32:292.1 states "the transport of a POW is not applicable where prohibited by state or federal law". Barksdale, being a federally owned property, can deny the carry or transport of POWs in vehicles onto the installation. In addition to state law, Title 18, USC 930 prohibits the carry or transport of POWs into a federal facility (i.e. any building on the base). The bottom line: it is unauthorized to bring a weapon (concealed or not) onto Barksdale AFB unless you are participating in an approved function such as hunting, skeet and range use or for the purpose of transporting it to and from your base residence (excluding dorm residence) or the 2 SFS armory.

Finally, if you are stopped during a routine traffic stop or during a base entry point check, let the law enforcement officer know immediately that you have a weapon in your vehicle. The 2 BW IDP mandates that if a POW is discovered during a base entry point check, the law enforcement officer will request the owner temporarily surrender the weapon for officer safety (similar to LA Revised Statute/CCRP 215.1), until the owner's purpose or intent for bringing a weapon on the installation is resolved. If the reason is authorized or if the owner resides on base, then the weapon will be returned and owner will be asked to ensure the weapon remains unloaded and stored securely while transported on base. If you don't need to carry a weapon in your vehicle, don't. If a law enforcement officer on patrol or at one of the base entry points stops you, tell them you have a weapon and follow their instructions until any misunderstanding can be resolved.

I hope this clears up any confusion with regards to POWs on the base. In the end, our goal as Security Forces is to ensure the installation's personnel and resources are protected, and that the base is a secure environment to live, work and accomplish the mission. For more information or questions contact the 2 SFS law enforcement desk at 456-2551.