Dozens of Navy pilots, including at least two instructors stationed at a Florida base that was the site of a deadly shooting earlier this month, have written a letter to lawmakers demanding that pilots be allowed to carry weapons while on base.
Fox News reported Sunday that a number of Navy pilots who remained anonymous plan to send the draft letter to colleagues for signatures before presenting it to lawmakers on the House and Senate Armed Services committees in the hopes of spurring change after three people were killed in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The pilots told Fox News that the purpose of the campaign is to "discontinue what has become a severe irony burdening our servicemembers: that they can be entrusted to fly multimillion-dollar aircraft over hostile territory, command companies of infantrymen into battle, or captain ships around the world, all while holding the nation’s top security clearances, but when back home are not trusted to carry a simple pistol in order to protect themselves."
“It is reprehensible that a military installation, much less its warfighters based there, be at the mercy of off-base, civilian law enforcement when faced with an immediate threat to their lives,” reads the letter.
Creation of the letter comes after Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a Saudi Air Force pilot, killed three people and wounded eight others at the Pensacola. An investigation into the shooting is ongoing, with terrorism presumed as a possible motive by authorities.
A spokesman for the Pentagon said at a press conference this week that the agency wasn't aware of a request by pilots to carry weapons on base, and pointed to the response time by authorities in the Pensacola shooting as well as another recent shooting at a base in Hawaii.
“I'm not familiar with that request and I'm not familiar with anybody considering that at this time. I would point out that both in Pearl Harbor and in Pensacola, that our armed law enforcement on the bases both were able to respond to the shootings in a very rapid manner and engage with and address the shootings,” Jonathan Hoffman said Thursday.