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Full-time military personnel at National Guard facilities in six states could soon be armed after deadly shootings at two Tennessee military facilities raised questions about the vulnerability of the country's troops on home soil.
The governors of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Florida and Indiana have authorized the arming of full-time National Guard members to deter attacks and allow them the ability to protect themselves and civilians in case they are targeted.
The orders made Friday and Saturday were in response to the deadly rampage in Chattanooga, in which Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez allegedly launched an attack against a storefront recruiting center and reserve station and killed four Marines. A Navy sailor injured in the attack died Saturday.
"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," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued an executive order Saturday authorizing the arming of personnel at military facilities and storefront recruiting stations. Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Saturday recommended security checks and bullet-proof glass at recruiting stations, and ordered recruiters relocated to armories until improvements are made.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said Friday that security at recruitment and training centers will be reviewed, but added that recruiters aren't armed because of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prevents the military from engaging in domestic law enforcement. "We have to be careful about over-arming ourselves," Odierno said.
Sen. Ron Johnson a Republican who represents Wisconsin and is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Friday he will introduce legislation "calling for the termination of regulations that prohibit members of the Armed Forces from carrying certain firearms on military installations."
"By disarming the Armed Forces, gun-free policies at military facilities have made our men and women in uniform easy targets for terrorist attacks," Johnson said.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered that the military deliver recommendations to improve the safety of service members at home by the end of the week.
Utah's governor said the National Guard was authorized to carry weapons on military facilities last year. Gov. Gary R. Herbert said in a statement Saturday that he directed the Guard to examine ways to further protect military personnel in the state.