In the wake of the tragic deaths of four Marines and a Navy petty officer in Chattanooga, governors from over six states are pushing to enable their National Guardsmen to arm and defend themselves. At present, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, and Arkansas all have some form of authorization in effect or in process according to Reuters.
“It is painful enough when we lose members of our armed forces when they are sent in harm’s way, but it is unfathomable that they should be vulnerable for attack in our own communities,” Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said in a statement.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott signed an immediate executive order to move six storefront Florida National Guard recruiting centers to their nearest Guard armory buildings. In his statement, he urged Guard members who do not carry firearms to pursue the means to carry through an expedited concealed carry weapon permitting process.
Gov. Scott is also pushing to have bulletproof glass and improved video surveillance implemented in the recruitment offices.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott quickly followed suit, authorizing military to carry a personal firearm while at work. This provision also extends to recruiters working at National Guard recruitment offices.
“Arming the National Guard at these bases will not only serve as a deterrent to anyone wishing to do harm to our service men and women, but will enable them to protect those living and working on the base,” [Gov. Abbott, TX] added.
While provisions range from executive orders to official statements, states are attempting to enable their service men and women to not be stuck in the open without access to firearms or security – two lacking oversights prevalent in the most recent assault on active duty recruiters and a naval reserve base in Chattanooga.
State governors are authorized to affect changes for National Guard units within their state but ultimate authority for active duty military has to be authorized through provision by the Department of Defense. Legislators are still in the process of determining how best to protect military in a domestic situation. Calls to harden storefront recruitment offices with bulletproof glass and increased surveillance alongside additional provisions for military with concealed carry permits are amongst the many requests being made.