|Typical Signage for Federal Properties|
A recent comment on The Sounding Board questioned the extent of compliance with National Foreign Affairs Training Center policy regarding the carrying of weapons on campus. That made me curious because, generally, all Federal properties come under Title 18 U.S. Code Section 930 which prohibits firearms and other weapons. Who didn't know that?
Follow-up comments on the Sounding Board showed that lots of people didn't know that, and some of those people are DS agents. I looked up NFATC's Section 1-168 (Weapons Policy at the Shultz Center) to make sure. Turns out, yeah, it does apply to DS agents and other Federal Law Enforcement Officers. No weapons allowed on campus for them.
Here are the key points:
Federal law prohibits the possession of firearms or other dangerous weapons in Federal facilities and Federal court facilities by all persons not specifically authorized by Title 18, United States Code, Section 930. Violations of 18 U.S.C. 930 may result in criminal penalties and/or disciplinary action.
A dangerous weapon is defined as a weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2 1/2 inches in length.
No one may bring firearms or other dangerous weapons into Federal properties, including parking lots, grounds, and buildings, except for law enforcement personnel specifically authorized to be armed in Federal facilities by 18 U.S.C. 930.
Law enforcement personnel who are authorized to be armed in Federal facilities by 18 U.S.C. 930 and who are actively conducting law enforcement activities in the facility that require them to be armed may carry weapons in the facility.
All other law enforcement personnel who are carrying weapons, but not performing law enforcement functions in the facility, must check in with the facility security officer to receive directions concerning storage of their weapon.
The policy notice I saw stated it had been "Reviewed Feb 2016" which makes me suspect that there have been recent incidents of employees or students at NFATC seeing weapons, maybe in the possession of other students, and reporting that to school authorities.
Is this policy of banning law enforcement officers from carrying weapons on campus a good idea? NFATC is a soft target in comparison to most Federal properties in the Washington DC area. Given the threat of active shooter attacks - see, for instance, the Washington Navy Yard shooting and the Fort Hood shooting - should the State Department reconsider the policy of banning everyone from carrying firearms on campus?
This is a difficult issue for many institutions. Even military bases have normally banned other than active duty law enforcement personnel from carrying weapons. Speaking as a former Military Police officer, I can think of a hundred reasons why general concealed carry on-base would be a disaster waiting to happen. But, there are some highly sensible new policies about on-base carry that strike a good balance between safety and timely response to active shooters. Am I completely crazy to think that the State Department should consider revising its policies about firearms in the workplace to incorporate lessons learned from the Navy Yard, Fort Hood, and other such incidents?
I'm still curious about how the policy about firearms on the NFATC campus came to be reviewed, and reminders sent out. I can only guess that some agent-students were carrying their duty pistols with, ah, less than complete discretion. Gentlemen, lose the duty holsters and look into tuckable inside-the-waistband holsters, pocket carry, and even the Old School ankle holster (it was good enough for Popeye Doyle back in the 70s). Why needlessly alarm the hoplophobic among us?
And then there is the matter of pocket knives, which are also covered by Title 18 U.S. Code Section 930. I was surprised to learn that my Mini-Griptilian is not legal on Federal properties because it exceeds, just barely, the 2.5-inch blade limit. My Leatherman Skeletool is fine, however. I carry them both daily. Plus, I carry a small Swiss Army Knife just for occasions when I want to open a package or something but don't want to upset people whom I suspect might be alarmed by my little Griptilian.
Such people exist, and I don't think the workplace is the right venue for arguing these issues. Whether it's your pistol, my knife, someone else's pepper spray, or blowguns, nunchucks, or Ninja throwing stars, carrying them on Federal property isn't a civil right, it's just a practice regulated by law and policy.
Let's review that policy. But meanwhile, why needlessly upset any of our fellow employees?