No, Bill Clinton Did Not Ban Guns on Military Bases

Since the shooting at a military base in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the right wing media has been ablaze with pundits repeating ad nauseum that Bill Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting military personnel from carrying guns on military bases. That is apparently a lie.

It’s wrong on all three claims, actually. It wasn’t an executive order, it was a DoD directive. And it wasn’t issued under Clinton, it was issued under Bush 41, 8 months before Clinton was elected and nearly a year before he took office.

This Directive is effective immediately. Forward one copy of implementing documents to the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence) and the Inspector General, Department of Defense within 120 days. [Department of Defense,2/25/92]

It also doesn’t ban the carrying of guns on military bases:

What’s more, that directive–signed by Donald J. Atwood, George H. W. Bush’s deputy secretary of defense — was by no means a “ban” on firearms at military installations. It explicitly authorizes DOD personnel “to carry firearms while engaged in law enforcement or security duties, protecting personnel, vital Government assets, or guarding prisoners,” and simply aims to “limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel. The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried. Evaluation of the necessity to carry a firearm shall be made considering this expectation weighed against the possible consequences of accidental or indiscriminate use of firearms.” [The New Republic, 9/17/13]

Strike three, you’re out.

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  • D. C. Sessions

    Well, that just means it wasn’t Bill Clinton. Which doesn’t excuse Hillary, who was after all the principal conspirator.

    It was all a long-term plan to execute BENGHAZI!!!!!!!

  • oldskoolnyc

    Facts, facts, what are you talking facts?

  • busterggi

    Obama is using his time machine to discredit Clinton!

  • Modusoperandi

    Well, sure the DoD did that under GHWB, but then again he didn’t have all them Muslins Obama imported.

  • llewelly

    It’s also important to mention why the directive was issued. Firearm accidents and suicides cause far more deaths and injuries than mass shootings. That was an important part of the reasons given. And on military bases, they went way down after the directive was implemented. That’s why the DOD uniformly opposed efforts to reverse the directive after the Fort Hood shooting, and why they’ll oppose them again.

    But we’re not allowed to talk about that, because that would reveal that even trained military personnel who regularly handle firearms are in more danger from their own firearms than from the firearms of terrorists or “mass shooters”, unless they are in or near a combat zone.

  • Modusoperandi

    llewelly “It’s also important to mention why the directive was issued. Firearm accidents and suicides cause far more deaths and injuries…”

    Exactly. GHWB was right to do it because of all those Muslin suicide-shooters.

  • eric

    An anti-gun initiative gets passed and BAM!! a mere 23 years later, there’s an attack. Read the writing on the wall, sheeple!

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Everybody knows™ that Clinton issued the notorious “Don’t Load, Don’t Shoot” command.

  • Larry

    Number of retractions, admissions of faulty reporting, apologies to affected parties: Zero

    Number of years this story will continue to circulate in the RW echo chamber after debunkage: approximately one bazillion.

    Shame expressed: fugedaboutit, not happening.

  • lorn

    The actual facts are, and will remain, largely irrelevant to the people telling the story. You have to admit it is a pretty good story.

    It hits all the high notes: a villainous liberal leader with contempt for the services he refused to join with in their noble goals of protecting the nation gaining power and using his new authority to tie the hands of the military and disarm themselves in the middle of a historic battle with of Muslim terrorists.

    It plays on existing resentments over “letting in the gays”, don’t ask don’t tell, his deferments, and the mythology of Vietnam veterans being spit on by hippy anti-war protesters like Bill and Hillary. It further advances that laundry list and adds the twist that, seeing that Obama is accused, all Democrats, including Hillary, have been planning on US military capitulation to ISIS for a long time.

    You can never overestimate how crafty and deceitful any Democrat might be. Bill Clinton was obviously devilishly clever in anticipating the emergence of ISIS more than a decade in advance of the fact. Facts mean nothing as long as Democrats have easy access to time machines.

  • sabrekgb

    To be fair, for the purposes that they mean (self-defense), it did in fact ban guns on base (mostly…there is a slight exception for base housing [not dorms], sometimes). They are incorrect (probably lying) for the other portions.

    As Ilewellyn @ 5 notes, though, the numbers of prevented accidents/suicides (from guns) likely counter (by a wide margin) those of workplace violence/terrorism. From an institutional mindset, that probably makes it worth it from the service’s point of view to ban them. I don’t think it’s the right decision, but it’s not hard to see why they do it in this case.

  • Synfandel

    What’s more, that directive–signed by Donald J. Atwood, George H. W. Bush’s deputy secretary of defense — was by no means a “ban” on firearms at military installations.

    That depends on what the meaning of the word “ban” is.

  • magistramarla

    Hubby is a retired AF officer. He thinks that all firearms belong on base, under lock and key.

    No weapon has ever been allowed in our home.

    I honestly feel safer shopping on base in the commissary, where guns are banned, than in the local HEB, where I’ve seen open-carry gun-nuts carrying their weapons.

  • gerryl

    I recall arriving at my first USAF assignment in 1972. As I checked into the dorm (yeah, dorm, not barracks) I was asked whether I owned a firearm and was told that all personal firearms had to be held in a locked storage area. No “open carry” in the dorm. No guns in rooms.

    After a few months of living there with enough rude people to make even Mother Theresa crack, I was very glad that no guns were allowed. It would have been a blood bath.

  • democommie

    When I was in the USAF (10/68–11/7) I was working about two years in the Base Individual Equipment Unit. We issued some flying jackets and other specialty gear to rated flying personnel and the like. We also stored ALL private weapons as well as all military weapons (M-16’s, .45 and .38 pistols and the like–everything that wasn’t a “inidvidual” weapon). If you wanted to hunt or target shoot, you had to come sign for your weapons and turn them back in when you were done. Nobody got shot while I was on the base.