Pentagon to adopt uniform rules on guns
By Anne Gearan - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Apr 16, 2010 7:48:16 EDT
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will adopt a broad policy governing how privately owned guns can be carried or stored at military installations following the shooting deaths of 13 people last year at Fort Hood, Texas.
A disgruntled Army doctor is charged in the deaths.
Maj. Nidal Hasan had little or no access to military firearms in his job as a psychologist, but was able to buy two handguns and bring them onto the base.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered this week that a new comprehensive policy be developed to cover all branches of the military and its bases and offices. The standardized policy would replace or buttress a patchwork of regulations adopted by each service or individual military installation.
The weapons policy is among recommendations for security and administrative upgrades released by the Pentagon on Thursday. Gates ordered that an interim weapons policy be in force by June, and a permanent one is due early next year.
The new policy is expected to mirror restrictions already in place at some military installations that, for example, require guns brought onto a base to be registered with military police.
Gates also ordered changes in the way tips and information in criminal investigations are shared, and directed an internal review of personnel policies on health care records. An outside panel said those policies can prevent higher-ups from knowing about behavior or other problems that might be red flags.
Also Thursday, Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins R-Maine, said they will send subpoenas to the Pentagon and Justice Department if the administration doesn’t provide more information on the Fort Hood case by Monday.
Lieberman and Collins — the two top senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — launched their investigation into the Fort Hood shootings five months ago. They claim the administration is stonewalling their requests for access to FBI agents, documents or Hasan’s personnel file from the Defense Department.
“Disclosure of some of the material you have requested could compromise the pending prosecution,” administration lawyers wrote to the two senators this week.
The administration said it does not want to generate pretrial publicity that could taint a jury pool or make witnesses reluctant to cooperate, and wants to avoid a barrage of defense lawyer requests that could force the government to reveal information it wants to save for a criminal trial.