NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 3, 2015) – Following the targeted attacks on military installations in Chattanooga on July 16 that resulted in the deaths of four US Marines and a US Navy sailor, the Tennessee Senate Veterans Caucus formerly requested that Governor Bill Haslam issue an executive order that would recognize active military service members’ identification cards as Tennessee Carry Permits while they serve in their active service roles for the Tennessee National Guard.
The Governor initially developed an expedited process in response to the attack. As weeks have passed, Tennessee Senators and Veterans Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), and Mark Green (R-Clarksville) are concerned that our military men and women are left vulnerable as this process fails to match the immediacy of the threat.
“The swift call for Tennessee’s Adjutant General to boost the security of our state’s National Guard facilities, even with weapons, at his discretion is applauded,” observed TN Senator and US Army Combat Veteran Mark Green. “Additional action must be taken to allow our military men and women an opportunity to defend themselves. The evidence of organizations such as ISIS specifically naming soldiers and their families as targets warrants immediate action, not a shortened process.”
To date, Governor Haslam has, in addition to the July 19 directive ordering Adjutant General Major General Max Haston to “review current Guard personnel who are authorized to be armed in the performance of their duties, and identify and arm additional Guardsmen where necessary to protect themselves, citizens, and Guard facilities,” temporarily relocated all seven of Tennessee’s National Guard recruiting centers to local armories.
Governors in seven states have acted in their roles of the states’ Commander-in-Chief to order their Guardsmen be armed while on active duty, eliminating gun-free zones that currently exist in Tennessee’s facilities. Florida, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin have enacted through executive order the policy change for their National Guard military installations.
“Appreciating the need to work within federal oversight and military policy when installations are co-located, the duty of the Legislative Branch is to echo the consent of Tennesseans,” observed TN Senator and Lt. Col., USMC (Retired) Dolores Gresham. “The continued designation in our military instillations as ‘gun-free-zones’ exposing our Guardsmen must end for the purpose of security.”
Following months of escalated concern and warnings issued by the federal government based on the confirmed targeting of law enforcement and military installations through the use of terrorist online propaganda by extremists groups such as the Islamic State and their sympathizers, the official investigation by the FBI and other agencies continues in Chattanooga to seek a motive behind the deliberately planned and executed attack by Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
“The weapons training possessed by a Guardsman to fight an enemy in combat should be logically sufficient to qualify them to carry a sidearm while actively serving stateside for their protection,” declared TN Senator and US Army Veteran Rusty Crowe.
The General Assembly is set to reconvene to complete the 109th session on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. A legislative remedy is not possible prior to that date.