The governors of Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Indiana on Saturday ordered National Guard members at offices and other facilities to be armed in the wake of attacks that left five servicemen dead in Tennessee.
“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.
Governors Rick Scott of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Mike Pence of Indiana issued similar orders for National Guard members after four U.S. Marines and a Navy petty officer were shot and killed on Thursday in Chattanooga, Tennessee. One site where the shootings occurred was a recruiting office in a strip mall.
Security for the recruiting centers has come under scrutiny since the Tennessee shootings because some people believe they are too vulnerable. U.S. military officials have said security at recruiting and reserve centers will be reviewed, but the Army’s top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, said it’s too early to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other increased protection.
All six of the governors issuing the orders are Republican.
In Florida, Scott ordered six storefront Florida National Guard recruiting centers to be moved to the nearest Guard armory buildings.
The governor said Guard members who do not carry weapons should get them and obtain expedited concealed weapon permits, if necessary.
In his executive order, Scott said bulletproof glass and better video surveillance equipment are among steps that should be considered to make recruiting offices safer.
Scott said during an interview with CNN that recruiting centers could be targets and that’s why he wants the National Guard moved until officials are “comfortable” that they will be safe.
“We’ve got to understand that you know we have people in our country that want to harm the military,” Scott said. “They need to be safe and they need to be armed.”
Scott ordered officers to make sure all full-time members of the guard are armed “in the interest of immediately securing Florida National Guardsmen who are being targeted by ISIS.”
The Tennessee attacks have not been linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Authorities have called their probe a terrorism investigation and said they were looking into the gunman’s overseas travel and whether he was inspired or directed by a terrorist group.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter late Friday asked the military services to determine if additional steps can be taken to ensure people are safe at military installations, and said he wants a report back by the end of next week.
Gov. Pence of Indiana ordered the arming of military personnel at all Indiana National Guard facilities and recruiting storefronts, and Oklahoma Gov, Fallin’s office said her executive order also included military recruiting offices.
Military personnel in uniform would not usually have authorization to carry a personal weapon while working in recruiting offices, the Pentagon said on Friday.
“It has become clear that our military personnel must have the ability to defend themselves against these type of attacks on our own soil,” Texas Gov. Abbott said in a news release.
“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,” he added.