Lawmakers Propose Easing Personal Weapons Policy

The Fort Hood shootings have opened a debate on Defense Department regulations against troops bringing their personal weapons onto bases.

A growing list of current and former commanders have come out against Congressional proposals to ease restrictions such as those at Fort Hood that required troops to register their privately-owned weapons to bring them on base. The restrictions also banned the carrying of concealed weapons.

On Sunday, retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military should be focused on improving mental health care rather than allowing more weapons on base.

"That actually invites much more difficult challenges," Mullen said on NBC’s "Meet The Press."

Mullen backed Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of Staff, and Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the top commander at Fort Hood, in opposing changes to current policy that essentially limits sidearms on base to the military police and civilian security personnel.

"I believe that we have our military police and others that are armed, and I believe that's appropriate," Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week.

At a news conference at Fort Hood last week, Milley said "you’re not allowed to have concealed weapons on base and I don’t endorse carrying concealed weapons on bases."

The military was not conducting a review of personal weapons policy but was instead focused on the investigation of the shooting rampage last Wednesday allegedly carried out by Spec. Ivan Lopez that left four dead, including himself, and wounded 16 others, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Rep. Michael McFaul, R-Tex., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and several other lawmakers have called on the Pentagon to look at changing the policy on personal weapons.

"The idea that they're defenseless when they come home on our bases, I think Congress should be looking at that and having a discussion with the bases about what will be the best policy," McFaul said on Fox News Sunday.

McFaul said he could favor easing the policy to allow officers to carry weapons on base.

The debate on weapons policy was similar to the one that took place in 2009 when Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 and wounded 32 others at Fort Hood. Hasan was sentenced to death last August by a court martial.

Both Hasan and Lopez bought their weapons at an off-base shop called "Guns Galore."

On Wednesday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were scheduled to attend a memorial service for the latest victims of a mass shooting at Fort Hood.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at