The family of one of the victims of last Friday’s shootings at Naval Air Station Pensacola is asking the U.S. government reconsider a rule that bans members of the military from bringing their legally owned weapons onto base.
Fox News reports that the parents and brother of Joshua Watson, a United States Naval Academy graduate stationed at the Pensacola base told Fox & Friends Tuesday that they believe that Joshua would still be alive if he had been allowed to be armed while attending classes to become a pilot.
“These men and women are asked to go defend their country overseas or wherever and my brother was an expert marksman. He was captain of the Rifle Team for the Navy. He was well-qualified to have a firearm and defend himself,” Watson’s brother Adam told the hosts Tuesday morning.
“And, if we’re going to ask these men and women to stand watch for our country, they need the opportunity to defend themselves. This isn’t the first time this happened, and if we don’t change something, it won’t be the last,” he said.
“If my brother had not had that right stripped from him, this would be a different conversation,” Adam Watson concluded.
Watson was one of three people killed in last Friday’s shooting, which Trump Administration officials are now saying is considered an “act of terrorism,” though investigators have found no concrete motive as of yet. A Saudi national — a member of that country’s military in the United States on a visa allowing him to study to be a pilot at Pensacola’s naval base — opened fire in a classroom, just hours after reportedly posting an anti-American “manifesto” on social media, and just a few months after complaining to superiors about being mistreated by his instructors.
Watson’s parents told Fox & Friends that their son died a hero. Shot and “bleeding profusely,” he dragged himself outside the building where the massacre took place to meet first responders and explain what had happened.
“Sometime early in the morning, after 6 o’clock, we know that he was shot at least five times and then somehow found the strength — bleeding profusely — to make it out the door, hail first responders,” Adam Watson told the morning show hosts. ‘And, they came up to him and with basically his last breath summoned his courage to give an accurate description of the shooter and his location so they could do their duty.”
Military.com says the rule against bringing service weapons onto base varies from location to location, but that most bases do not allow “any personal firearms to be brought on the installation or stored in base housing or barracks,” if the military member in question is not also a member of law enforcement of base security.
“While post commanders by and large determine their own regulations for acceptable behavior on the base they oversee, many locations do not allow any personal firearms to be brought on the installation or stored in base housing or barracks,” the site notes. “Troops living in barracks or other similar quarters who own personal weapons typically must register and store them in a base firearms storage facility.”
President Donald Trump has spoken in favor of loosening rules barring weapons on military bases, and in 2016, the Pentagon passed an update to regulations allowing base commanders to make the decision to allow weapons on their bases for themselves. So far, though, few have made that choice.