The governors of eight states have issued unprecedented executive orders in the past week, authorizing National Guardsmen to be armed at recruiting centers and other facilities in the wake of the July 16 deadly shooting rampage at military facilities in Chattanooga, TN, that killed five U.S. military personnel.
On July 18, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive to arm Guard members at military facilities statewide, while Florida Gov. Rick Scott relocated Guard recruiters from six storefront locations into nearby armories. In addition, earlier this week Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivered an executive order authorizing his state’s National Guard to arm the personnel at its facilities, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an executive order allowing National Guard members to carry weapons on duty.
“Safety must be our top priority, especially in light of the horrific attack in Chattanooga,” said Gov. Walker, a Republican presidential hopeful in a prepared statement July 21. “Allowing our National Guard members to carry weapons while on duty gives them the tools they need to serve and protect our citizens, as well as themselves.”
Following Florida Gov. Scott’s executive order — the first from eight Republican governors — a news report posted on the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative action (NRA-ILA) praised his action.
“Thanks go out to Governor Rick Scott for taking action to help insure the safety of our men and women in the military,” read the preface to the report.
In addition to his executive order, Gov. Scott also directed Guard Adjutant Gen. Michael Calhoun to work with local law-enforcement agencies to arrange regular security checks of armories and said the state would expedite processing of new Florida Concealed-Weapons Licenses (CWLs) for members of the Florida National Guard.
The head of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing, the agency entrusted to issue CWLs, vowed to follow through with the governor’s directive.
“Our nation mourns the loss of the five service members killed in this tragedy,” said Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. “I am fully committed to supporting our military members, and we look forward to expediting their Concealed Weapon License applications, which complements the measure we’ve already taken to allow service members and veterans to obtain a CWL regardless of the age requirement imposed on civilians.”