Did Fort Hood Shooter Violate Military Base Gun Rules?

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Fort Hood soldiers are subject to several security measures meant to keep most from carrying privately owned guns on the base.

Only law-enforcement and security officers are allowed to have concealed weapons, and soldiers who live on the post are required to declare their personal firearms, according to The Washington Post.

But the Fort Hood shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez, didn’t live on base, and officials said they wouldn’t have known he had his own gun.

“He lived off post,” Army Secretary John McHugh said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday.

“We try to do everything we can to encourage soldiers to register their personal weapons, even when they live off post. We are not legally able to compel them to register weapons when they reside off post.”

The base's policies were outlined by Lt. Gen. Mark Milley in an April 2013 memorandum that said the rules can “help prevent accidents or incidents that could cause serious injury or death to service members or civilians on the installation."

Among the restrictions:

• All service members and their dependents must register their private firearms with emergency services. If the owner sells, trades or loses the gun while on post, they must notify officials.

• Any private gun transported onto Fort Hood must first be registered and then brought through a specific gate. The gun is also subject to inspection.

• Commanders have the right to order service members who live on post to store their private weapons in a unit arms room.

• Commanders can ask a soldier who lives off-post to turn over their weapons if they believe the person is at risk of suicide or harming others. Additionally, the soldier in those situations could be ordered to move back onto the base.

A Pentagon spokesman said there are random compliance checks, but ensuring every person is following the rules can be difficult on a base of more than 45,000 service members and 8,900 civilian employees.

Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, had sponsored the Safe Military Bases Act after the Washington Navy Yard shooting in September, a bill allowing all service members to be armed on post.

“This is the third mass shooting on a military base in five years, and it’s because our trained soldiers aren’t allowed to carry defensive weapons,” Stockman said in a statement Thursday urging Congress to move on the bill. “Anti-gun activists have turned our military bases into soft targets for killers.”

— Erik Ortiz