CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr repeatedly asked a spokeswoman Thursday about why its military exchange stores sell guns and ammunition and declared the Department of Defense to be part of the "national conversation" on gun control.
Starr asked why the military has to sell guns in the stores "given today's environment," and said "there's just no question" the Pentagon is "part of this national conversation."
"Given today's environment, why does the department need to be selling these items through its military exchange stores?" Starr asked. "Are you looking at it? Are you rethinking it? What's the policy here?"
"The policy hasn't changed," spokeswoman Dana White said. "All of our exchanges are subject to both federal and state law, and they are all in compliance. It differs depending on the state, but all of our installations are in full compliance."
Starr said she didn't doubt their compliance but said, "By selling these items, you are now part—there's just no question—the Pentagon is now part of this national conversation, because you offer these items for sale."
"What is the need to offer—why are you selling these items in military stores and in military websites online?" Starr asked.
"Again, our military is a part of our larger community and states and citizenry," White said, repeating the stores were in compliance with the law. "With respect to the conversation, it's a national conversation, and it's one that has to happen between our lawmakers and the president, as well as citizens at large about the future of gun control."
That didn't satisfy the veteran CNN reporter, who asked, "Are you not part of it now by selling these items through your stores? Is there any question that the U.S. military is not part of this national conversation since you sell these items?"
"Our service members are a part of our community, and they enjoy the same rights as those in our community," White said. "They have the right to purchase ammunition and guns as long as it's in compliance with state and federal law … If something is going to change, that is ultimately for lawmakers to make that decision."
Starr also addressed guns in her questioning last week, asking White, "Can the Pentagon really continue to stay out of the gun debate in this country, realistically?"