Defense bill could lift restrictions on guns on military bases

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Congress could vote to lift a ban on military personnel carrying guns at bases in the aftermath of last week’s attack in Chattanooga, Tenn.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters during a briefing Tuesday that a provision allowing members of the military to carry weapons could be included in the conference report reconciling the House and Senate versions of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

“Right now, we have the NDAA and that’s being discussed in conference as well, that provision,” McCarthy said. “It could be in the NDAA conference because they have that issue inside there where it could allow the base commander to have the determination.”

{mosads}Negotiators on the defense authorization are trying to hammer out an agreement before the monthlong August recess, meaning a conference report could potentially hit the floor next week.

A provision previously adopted during consideration of the House version of the defense bill this year would clarify that post commanders have the ability to authorize soldiers to carry concealed weapons on military bases. 

Such a provision in the defense bill would be different from legislation that the Tennessee congressional delegation introduced Monday that would repeal the ban on members of the military carrying guns on bases.

Multiple GOP lawmakers in both the House and Senate have urged a repeal of the ban since the shootings last Thursday at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., that killed six. The Tennessee lawmakers’ bill stands out because the two Democrats in the delegation have signed on to it, arguing that members of the military should be able to maintain self-defense.

“Our men and women in uniform must have the ability to protect themselves regardless of where they are serving,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), the chief GOP sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

Unlike the aftermath of previous mass shootings, calls for new gun restrictions have been relatively muted since the attack in Chattanooga.

Time is running short for many more bills to be considered before Congress leaves Washington for its August break. McCarthy gave no indication that a patent reform bill that was originally scheduled for a vote this week will come up.

The California Republican further suggested a bill pushed by conservatives that would ban the federal government from discriminating against churches or charities for views opposing same-sex marriage still needed a coalition to form a majority. 

Tags Kevin McCarthy National Defense Authorization Act

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