Liberty University Aids Concealed Carry, and so does Dyess AFB

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr made a lot of news over the weekend after his Friday speech advocating that his students carry concealed weapons.

“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” Falwell said.

He told the Associated Press on Saturday he was specifically referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple who shot and killed 14 people during a holiday party in a Southern California office building on Wednesday.

Much less attention was given to Dyess Air Force Base, near Abilene, Texas. According to a statement from the base, for the first time in decades, US troops will be able to keep their concealed weapons when they enter the base [emphasis added]: 

Changes to the Dyess Force Protection Plan, signed and approved by Col. David Benson, 7th Bomb Wing commander, now permits authorized personnel that possess a current and valid Texas Concealed Handgun License or a reciprocating state concealed carry license to transport and secure privately-owned handguns in privately-owned vehicles within legal boundaries of Dyess Air Force Base.

“While this policy change does not allow concealed carry on base, it does allow those who carry concealed weapons to transport them onto and off the base in their vehicles,” said Col. David Benson, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “This provides a safe and secure way to bring their weapons on base.”

For years, properly licensed gun owners in the military have been unable to carry their weapons even off base, because when they drove to work they were not permitted by military policy to have their weapons. Instead, they were required to proceed immediately to the armory to store them, a logistical exercise that had the effect of prohibiting military members from ever carrying their weapons during the week.

Tucked quietly into the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (which also created a new retirement system) was a change in that gun policy that delegated to base commanders the authority to make such decisions about weapons.

Col David Benson, the wing commander at Dyess AFB, TX, may have been the first to act. (Interestingly, he’s only been commander for about a month.) Troops with concealed carry licenses are now permitted to bring their weapons on base and secure them in their vehicles during the duty day.

Dyess troops still can’t carry the weapons while on base, but they are now able to carry them while traveling to and from their off base homes.

And in an era in which US troops — and many average Americans — are at risk every day, the ability to exercise their right to carry a weapon is significant.

As one indicator of where this lies in the minds of troops and their families, a Dyess article last week received 8 Facebook “likes.”  Their article about the concealed carry policy received 10,000 “likes.”