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CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - A rifle and handgun lay next to their magazines at the base shooting range. Proper awareness of weapons' capabilities and safety issues keeps firearms owners knowledgable and responsible. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Elliott Sprehe)
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With gun rights come responsibilities

Posted 11/5/2008   Updated 11/5/2008 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Elliott Sprehe
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs Office

11/5/2008 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Firearms and gunpowder have played a role in society for centuries and are even mentioned in the Bill of Rights. 

The second amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." 

With the right in place, servicemembers are entitled to own various firearms as long as they adhere to local, federal, and state laws, as well as distinct Air Force Instructions and other regulations. 

"Transportation of weapons up to the gated entrance of the base follows New Mexico state law," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Nofzinger, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron. 

"As you approach the gate, you follow military rules," added the sergeant, who said that the weapon must be unloaded, ammunition must be separate from the weapon, and not in close proximity to the weapon. 

He added that the presence of the weapon must also be made aware to the installation entry controllers. 

To keep a weapon in military family housing, including Mercury on-base housing, Chavez Manor, Chavez West, 801 Clovis and 801 Portales, the weapon must be registered with the unit commanders support staff and the security forces armory on base. 

A dorm resident is allowed to own a weapon as well, but it must be secured in the security forces armory immediately upon entering the base. 

As stated in AFI 31-101, Cannon supplement 1 and 3, military members who do not register personal firearms as required will be apprehended for a violation under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

"I take (my firearm) with me for my safety," said Senior Airman Lester Powell, 27th Special Operations Mission Support Squadron. 

Airman Powell, who grew up hunting in Georgia, owns a shotgun, and currently lives in on-base housing. 

"The first thing I had to do after purchasing the weapon was get the (Air Force Form 1314)," said Airman Powell. After the registration form is completed, it then goes through the unit first sergeant and commander. 

"I received a briefing (from them) on firearm safety and responsibilities," said Airman Powell, who added that he keeps a registration in his car as well as his house. 

In addition to registering firearms, a number of other things are required for personnel living in military housing who own weapons. These include, but are not limited to, tamper-resistant locked housing containers and trigger locks. 

Maj. Damian Schlussel, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron commander, recommends that before purchasing a firearm, people make sure the purchase isn't due to bad judgment. 

Some of the wrong reasons people purchase a firearm are, "they think it's cool," he said. Wanting to show off a firearm or having one for status are all wrong reasons, he added. 

Ensuring you're aware of how to properly operate firearms and what they're capable of doing is paramount for the safety of yourself, your family and others. 

"Having a weapon locked up in the home prevents children from getting access to it; kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for," said the security forces commander. "I have a weapon at home as well, and it's important for me to lock up my weapons." 

For those who own a firearm, there are a couple of different options available where practice shooting can be accomplished. 

There are shooting ranges in the local area and the shooting range on base can also be utilized by becoming a member of the Rod and Gun Club. 

Not only does the base club offer use of the shooting range, but offers an area for skeet shooting as well. The Rod and Gun Club is operated by the 27th Special Operations Services Squadron's Outdoor Recreation office, whose phone number is 784-2773. 

People need to be aware of the laws before purchasing a firearm, since different laws apply depending on the type of weapon a person plans on owning, such as rifles, shotguns or handguns. 

There are also a number of weapons that are prohibited on base at all times unless certain guidelines are met. Some of them include spring-operated knives, replica weapons, air guns, and Martial Arts weapons. 

For more information about base firearm policies call the security forces armory at 784-4124. Airmen can also access online resources or contact their first sergeants for assistance.

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