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Responsibilities of private weapon ownership

Responsibilities of private weapon ownership


Commentary by Linda Douglass

Fort Wainwright PAO

 

Orders to Fort Wainwright come as a welcome gift to Soldiers and Families who like to hunt. Alaska offers an abundance of wildlife and hunting unmatched in many areas of the Lower 48. Moose, caribou, black bear and Dall sheep are some of the big game hunters can go up against here.

 

With ownership and use of firearms comes responsibility. Since March 2012, Fort Wainwright Soldiers or Family members have been involved in 34 incidents with firearms. The most recent was Wednesday, when a 12-year-old boy was killed in a firearm incident in a Soldier’s off-post home. Officials are still investigating the shooting.

 

Seven Soldiers were injured cleaning or handling their weapons, sometimes after having one or more alcoholic drinks. In one incident a noncommissioned officer went downtown to pick up a Soldier who had requested a ride back to post after having several drinks. A second Soldier saw the TMP van and requested a ride. After getting into the van, the second Soldier negligently discharged a firearm, with the round exiting the side door of the van.

 

It is imperative that anyone who handles a firearm does so using common sense.

 

The first rule should be: ALWAYS ensure the weapon is unloaded before even bringing it indoors. Then ensure it is unloaded before cleaning it or showing it to your friends.

 

The second rule should be: NEVER play with it. It is not a toy. Never aim it at something you do not intend to shoot.

 

The third rule should be: NEVER leave it where a child can reach it. Keep it locked in a cabinet when not in use and keep the key in a safe, secure spot.

 

The fourth rule should be: NEVER handle a weapon after drinking alcohol.

 

If you live on post or plan to bring your privately owned firearms on post – the cantonment area - there are certain rules you must follow for the safety and welfare of those around you.

 

Transporting the weapons on post

 

Everyone – Soldier and civilian – who wishes to carry, transport or store privately owned firearms on Fort Wainwright must register the firearm(s) at the visitors’ center before entering post. You must declare the firearm to the gate personnel as you enter. You may register your firearm at the Police Station located at Building 3028 if you purchased it on post.

 

Privately owned firearms and ammunition will only be transported on post for purchase or sale, use at authorized ranges, authorized hunting and trapping or for off-post activities. You must carry your firearm registration documents with you every time you transport the firearm on post.

 

While you transport the weapon on post, it must be in a firearm case. Loaded magazines or clips must be stored separately from that firearm during transport.

 

In outlying areas exempt from the firearms registration requirements (hunting areas, ranges, etc.), you may transport your firearm provided there is no round in the chamber. Magazines, clips or revolver cylinders may be loaded and/or contained within the firearm itself provided there is no round in the chamber or immediately in front of the firing pin or hammer.

 

Off-post residents (military and civilian) participating in an authorized shooting activity on post who do not wish to have their firearms permanently entered into the police firearm registration database may request that the registration documents be held for pick-up upon conclusion of the activity. Any registration held longer than 24 hours at the main gate visitors’ center will be entered into the database as a matter of record on the next duty day.

 

Storing the weapons on post

 

You may not store loaded firearms in your household. Ammunition in government quarters, including reloading supplies, must be stored separate from the firearms. All firearms stored in government quarters must be secured or otherwise rendered inoperable to prevent their use by children or other unauthorized people.

 

You may not store firearms and ammunition permanently or routinely in vehicles. This includes leaving them in a vehicle for the day while you are at work.

 

While you are traveling to and from authorized storage locations or ranges, you may leave your firearms in a locked vehicle out of public view for short, very-limited periods of time, such as a short stop at the shoppette, post service station, or a friend’s home.

 

The only authorized storage place for firearms owned by Soldiers who are assigned a room in the barracks is the unit arms room. The firearms and ammunition will be stored in locked containers separate from government-owned weapons and ammunition in the arms room.

 

The commander or authorized representative must provide written authorization each time a privately owned firearm is withdrawn from the arms room. Upon completion of their activity with the firearms, it must be immediately returned to the unit arms room; however, when personnel are unable to return their firearms or ammunition to the unit arms room, those items can be stored temporarily at the local police desk.

 

The police desk has firearm safes which meet the security requirements for the temporary storage of all firearms and small amounts of ammunition. Personnel will use these containers when they are not able to store weapons in their respective unit arms rooms or other authorized locations. The desk sergeant will accept firearms from anyone at any time.

 

Overnight, routine or long term storage is not authorized at any time in vehicles, barracks, transient lodging or some other location or room other than the arms room (e.g., a friend’s quarters).

 

Storage of archery weapons, BB guns, pellet guns, swords or martial arts weapons by personnel residing in barracks is at the unit commander's discretion. Garrison, post and unit policies addressing these types of weapons will be posted on the unit bulletin board.

 

USARAK law enforcement officials may confiscate firearms and other weapons found to be stored, transported or used in manners or methods contrary to the rules. Unregistered firearms will be confiscated and maintained by law enforcement until they are properly registered.

 

Concealed weapons on post

 

All Soldiers assigned or attached to U.S. Army Alaska are prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm in Alaska, on or off military installations, unless an exception exists. This prohibition applies regardless of whether the Soldier has a concealed-carry permit from the state. The policy is punitive and Soldiers who fail to comply with the policy’s requirements are subject to adverse administrative action and/or punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 

Exceptions:

 

     a. Soldiers engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, trapping or other lawful outdoor activities that typically involve carrying a firearm for personal protection from wildlife.

 

     b. Soldiers carrying a concealed firearm in a dwelling or on land owned or rented by the Soldier.

 

     c. Soldiers carrying a concealed firearm in connection with their military duties (e.g., military police officer).

 

Areas exempt from the firearm registration requirements are all off-post ranges and training areas such as the Tanana Flats, the Yukon Training Area and the Donnelly Training Area.

 

Any weapon lost or stolen on post will be reported to the Police Desk immediately.

 

For more information on privately owned firearms on post, please call the Physical Security Office at 353-7537 or 7564, or see the USARAK Commanding General’s policy letter Number 19 at https://portal.usarpac.army.mil/usarak/staff/CMDGRP/Pages/CofSPolicies.aspx.