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How Difficult Is It To Purchase A Firearm On Your DoD Installation?

What does it take to buy a gun at your Exchange or MWR facility?

What do US servicemembers in good standing and legal gun owners have in common?
1) Not felons
2) Not convicted of domestic abuse
3) Legal residents of the United States
4) Not drug addicts
5) Not mentally ill
6) Not fugitives from justice

In addition to the “Nots”, all US servicemembers have had at least rudimentary training in firearms and inculcation into a mindset of if-then decision making. Some are better than others; not everyone is a Tier Zero special operator but most should be expected to responsibly own and operate a weapon. In theory, this should make them entirely acceptable gun candidates for responsible firearms ownership under the Second Amendment and even the most ardent of gun controllers have a hard time generating a valid, sound counterargument. If you can be trusted with a M-4 with 210 rounds of ammunition under high stress conditions for 15 months at a stretch while deployed, surely buying a shotgun shouldn’t be a multi-day ordeal of paperwork. All decisions have consequences.

Nonetheless, the purchase of firearms varies widely from installation to installation. Some just require proof of exchange privileges, proof of residency (PCS orders or Driver’s License), money, and a 4473 filled out. Others attempt to involve Command authority to an onerous level of mother-may-I-permissions with a rank based hierarchy of permissions. Fort Stewart in 2014, for example, required a memorandum from the Commander for Soldiers E-5 and below.

Take the poll. Remember, the focus of the poll is the PURCHASE, not the carriage or storage of weapons on base.

Comment professionally about YOUR purchase experiences at various installations. SSD wants to know “How hard is it for Joe to buy a gun at your installation?”


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Thulsa Doom

Thulsa Doom is a long-time reader and occasional contributor to SSD. He is recently retired from the Army and has been stationed on Army, Air Force, and Navy installations with both cerebral and retard-strong Army and Joint assignments. A rifleman, historian, linguist, analyst, master of the electromagnetic spectrum and man-about-town, he currently resides in the Eastern United States and works as a DoD contractor.

24 Responses to “How Difficult Is It To Purchase A Firearm On Your DoD Installation?”

  1. Hobbs says:

    I was stationed at Ft. Stewart until I got out in 2012, right as the PX was implementing firearms sales. Even after that, the tax-exempt purchase price still wasn’t enough to justify all the BS you had to go through to buy at the PX, when there were several gun shops with excellent selections in the area. Considering that GA is still a free state that requires the bare minimum to purchase almost whatever you like, why ANYONE bought an AAFES gun was mind boggling to me.

  2. will says:

    One cant buy ammo on the same day and after the purchase is completed will be escorted to vehicle.

  3. Cwg says:

    It was always too much of a nightmare to bother with. I would only buy occasional pistol magazines that were on sale.

    I do take substaintal issue with part of your premise.

    Trying to carve a “more equal than others” status out for servicemembers is a rediculous and counterproductive tool reminicant of the 90’s Woodstock assault-free rifle crowd that ushered in the long line of Clinton bans.

    Stop trying to justify firearm ownership through personal snowflake status, it fuels the anti gun anti 2A crowd and let’s be honest, due to the crippling weapon phobia present in the modern military (and significant complacency issues with police duty guns) along with an aversion to weapons training outside of small communities personal firearms owners who regularly hit the range are a far more capable lot as a group than the 90%+ of servicemembers or cops who hit a range once a year.

    • Thulsa Doom says:

      The issue isn’t competence at use nor special snowflake status. It’s about deliberately impeding lawful commerce and MWR fund generation with the muscle of the UCMJ and fiat policies.

    • Doktor Shakalu says:

      Cwg: Please provide a reference or source for your assertion that civilian firearms users are “far more capable” than 90+ % of the military & police.

  4. Non-Operator says:

    After deployment in 2010 on Camp Lejeune there was a group buy attempt for a unit engraved Kimber in my battalion. Between needing a battalion commander sign off, some special waiver form from the sheriff’s office for those that had residency in other states, having to store the pistol in the armory for those that lived in barracks, and all the Kimber sign up forms, it fell through.

    • Joe says:

      So damn common…just passed on nearly the exact same thing because I saw the writing on the wall

  5. Hoff says:

    Other than a copy of orders, nothing that I wouldn’t need off base at McConnell AFB. Was an E-5 when I bought the pistol.

  6. rcbusmc24 says:

    As of now on Lejeune all you need is you military ID, and either a NC carry permit or the NC pistol purchase permit from the courthouse to buy a pistol on base, they did away with all the command authorization letter stuff here in Onslow county when the new Sherriff came in.

    The downside to buying on base is that out in town a store will let You purchase the pistol and hold it for you while you wait for your purchase permit to come back from the sheriff’s office (if you happen to have ran out of them on a buying binge….) The PX has to have the permit in hand to sell, they won’t store the pistol for you, but they will transfer.

    Lejeune does blue label Glocks, so it’s the cheapest place in town for those, other things, you can get cheaper out in town at times, no 7 percent sales tax is nice though.

    • Joe says:

      But they can’t order a Colt M45 for you…welcome to the twilight zone where a Marine can’t get a Marine pistol from the Marine exchange ordered from one of the largest small arm suppliers to the DoD.

      Never bought a weapon on base/post/installation. Prices weren’t really competitive and why bother?

      • Sean says:

        M45 is getting replaced by the Glock 19, so that is now a non-issue.

        • Joe says:

          Not talking about issued weapons. Talking about a Marine being able to buy a pistol that for all intents and purposes was/is issued by the Marine Corps.

          • Che Guevara's Open Chest Wound says:

            Claims not to be talking about issued weapons…immediately starts talking about an issued pistol.

            • straps says:

              I think he means, “Developed at considerable effort and expense for a small but prestigious Marine Corps community, then shitcanned for something everyone else on earth carries.” And unavailable to “this Marine.”

  7. George says:

    Ft Hood:
    4473 done at computer terminal, TX state ID/DL or PCS orders required, purchaser and firearm escorted from PX following completed purchase and must travel directly off post or directly to PMO to register firearm for storage on post.
    Ammo sales done at sporting goods counter, no special paperwork.
    Magazines and accessories done at any register.

  8. SN says:

    The purchase was easy, but you have to wait 24hrs to buy ammo (from the same store :) ).
    The Store Manager then escorts you out the door and informs you that you are required to leave the Post immediately.

  9. Philip says:

    Tried to purchase a Glock 23 at the JBLE firearms counter about 3 years ago. I am a VA resident who also ended up stationed there. (Some luck, huh?) As such, I had no real need to update my residency status.

    I presented 2 forms of ID with the same address and started on the 4473. Then, the not-so-friendly salesperson denied my purchase. She took back my forms, took the weapon off the counter and put it back in the lockup. She told me that even if I was a VA resident, the address on my driver’s license and voter registration card had to match the address I lived at to commute to/from the base or no sale. I’d never heard of such a policy, nor was it posted anywhere at the counter that I could see…she said it was “AAFES policy” and refused to get a manager when I asked, saying they’d tell me the same thing.

    Went out to the Bass Pro in Hampton later that afternoon and bought the same gun with no hassles. In, out, and home in under 45 minutes. That convenience alone was worth having to pay sales tax.

    Not sure if that lady was just an idiot or what, but it put me off wanting to purchase anything gun-related there ever again.

  10. Sean says:

    I’m not even sure if you can buy firearms at the Miramar PX, but there’s no point because Gunfighter Tactical is much better than anything the PX would probably offer. The only reason I’d consider buying guns from a PX in CA would be if we could get off-roster weapons.

  11. Dan says:

    Kodiak AK, CGNEX you needed a drivers license and your orders if your not an AK resident to make a purchase. Fill out the paperwork, quick phone call for NICS and you were out the door with your new pistol/shotgun/rifle. I purchased my first carbine at the exchange, went onto the range that same hour and shot through 400 rounds. Great times.

  12. straps says:

    I’m curious to know if things are still as easy at Ft. Bliss TX as they once were. Those were the easiest firearms transactions I ever executed. No command overhead, nobody needed to escort me to my vehicle–all I got was friendly advice not to stop at the bagel shop on the way out. Can’t speak for ammo, the prices seemed high and the selection seemed sparse.

    The only “challenge” I ever encountered there was persuading the buyer that if he added SCAR-H’s to his inventory, customers would (a) snap them up and (b) would NOT turn around and re-sell them to the Mexican Cartels.

    I recall having to get some kind of correspondence from a Commander at Knox which would have been a deal breaker but for something of interest in their inventory. Also, that particular Commander’s only expectation was that she and the CSM could “evaluate” the purchase at a local shooting facility. I get that not everyone has a Commander like that, and that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t qualify the Right to Keep and Bear for those with a cordial relationship with their Command Team.

    I did a transfer through the gun store at Pendleton as a TPU Reservist (not on any kind of PCS order). I think that put me in “California Compliance” but the price was right.

    Sadly, the “safe handling” mindset isn’t something that you can necessarily presume, and I think the pendulum is moving back toward the wrong direction. One dangerous bureaucracy is the (facility civilian) one increasingly insinuating itself between company commanders and their access to their unit arms rooms.

    I’ve actually had the “as a career-tenured member of the well-ordered militia SPECIFICALLY ENUMERATED in the Bill of Rights, what consideration do I merit?” conversation with municipal, state and federal policymakers and I get Lassie Looks, which is the point at which I inform them that they are, indeed, in breach of their duties as Constitutional Officers.

  13. Doc8404 says:

    I’m just here waiting for the Navy Exchange to start selling firearms. A few years ago the official answer was ‘It’s too hard with varying state laws and trying to maintain costly inventories.:

  14. Airborn_fister says:

    In Indiana. All you need is your pcs orders and military id. That’s for off post firearm purchases. Now if you live off post you need something stating that and it must be a government document. Like voters card, vehicle registrations, hunting license( which you can get any address put on that without any proof). And the best law passed for the new firearms law. If I ( I work for Cabela’s.) See a medical marijuana card. I can automatically deny someone. For lieing on their 4473. And because I know they use the drug.