An expanded policy requiring federal background checks for anyone wishing to bring a firearm onto Fort Gordon will go into full enforcement March 1.
“The idea is to vet the person, not the weapon,” said Lt. Col. Hollis Bush, the post’s director of emergency services and provost marshal.
Base regulations already require background checks and weapons registration for military personnel.
The amendments, adopted last October with a grace period that extends until March 1, now require both Department of Defense civilians and non-DOD civilians living off base to pass a background check as part of the registration process for their weapons.
An additional change, Bush said, requires off-base military personnel to register only the weapons they would bring onto the base for hunting or other purposes. The previous rule required registration of all firearms.
“If we just look at the weapons, and if people are non-military, we won’t know if we have someone who is prohibited from bringing a firearm on the installation,” he said. “Once we do a background check, we’ll know if they have a felony – or even a misdemeanor dealing with domestic violence.”
Anyone failing the background check will be advised of the reasons and will have the option of appealing the decision to the base commander.
The changes are unrelated to the fallout from the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings in Connecticut, Bush said, and were adopted last October with a four-month grace period to allow everyone to become acquainted with the changes.
The amended policies stem, in part, from a January 2012 directive from the Department of the Army asking that military bases update their rules for control of firearms, ammunition and other dangerous weapons.
The broad edict included a range of rulemaking options that gave individual base commanders leeway in drafting or updating policies.