Haslam orders review of policy on guns in military offices

Gov. Bill Haslam told state officials Sunday to review security policies at National Guard armories and the possibility of making it easier for military personnel to get handgun carry permits.

Haslam’s “directive” comes after at least six other governors have moved to have National Guardsmen carry weapons routinely and Republican presidential candidates — along with 4th Congressional District Congressman Scott DesJarlais, who has drafted a bill — calling for a change of federal law to allow military personnel to carry guns at recruiting stations. Those moves are all in reaction to the murder of four Marines and a Navy petty officer in Chattanooga on Thursday.

The governor first outlined his plans in a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, where he also indicated support for a change in the federal law now prohibiting guns guns at military recruiting stations.

There follows the emailed statement on Haslam’s “directive” from his communications office and a transcript of his comments on “Meet the Press”:

News release from the governor’s office:
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today issued a directive to Adjutant General Max Haston to review security policies and procedures at National Guard armories, storefront recruiting facilities, and other installations and take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of Guardsmen, citizens, and property. He also instructed Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons to assess the process for issuing handgun carry permits to trained members of the military and to look for ways to streamline it.

Governor Haslam directed General Haston to do the following:

· 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;

· Immediately examine the security of Guard storefront recruiting centers and work with the U.S. Department of Defense to pursue any available opportunities to enhance the safety of those operations within current federal law and regulations.

All stateside U.S. military bases and stations are currently at a force protection status of “Bravo,” and General Haston will review with the U.S. Department of Defense all means within this status and the confines of current federal laws and regulations to ensure that facilities in Tennessee are secure. Governor Haslam will also work with the Tennessee congressional delegation on appropriate solutions at the federal level to secure military buildings.

In addition to the Adjutant General’s review, Governor Haslam directed Commissioner Gibbons to evaluate the process for obtaining handgun carry permits for members of the military who have received appropriate training. At present, members of the military may forgo taking a state training course with possession of a military ID and documentation of handgun training through their service. However, in light of the shootings in Chattanooga and threats to service members, Governor Haslam has asked that alternatives be considered to make the process quicker and easier for military personnel to obtain permits.

Governor Haslam traveled to Chattanooga on Thursday and Friday in the wake of the shootings that resulted in the tragic deaths of four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor. He has visited with the families of the victims and will continue to work closely with state, local, and federal law enforcement officials.

Transcript of Haslam’s interview on “Meet the Press,” as provided by NBC:

Good morning.

What more can you tell us about the investigation that we don’t know? Any new developments on your end sir?

You know, the F.B.I. has been incredible I think in terms of being willing to chase down every lead, working with state law enforcement and local folks to try to ascertain is this somebody that was just totally operating on their own, was there someone else pulling their strings, just what caused this person to get to the point where he did what he did. So I have a lot of faith that they’re going to drill down exactly on what happened. Like I said, so far, I’ve been really impressed with their ability to go literally to every end to see where that will take them.

Here we are, 72 hours in, and we don’t have bread crumbs that lead us to a conclusion that many people have already come to, which is that this was a terrorist attack. What’s been the struggle here?

Well, I think one of the maybe scary things for all of us as Americans is the chance that, maybe the very good chance, this is just a lone wolf out there operating on his own, where we had no predictors of what he would do. And it makes it really hard, obviously, to think, how do we protect ourselves against that in the future?
I think that’s one of the fears that all of us have is that he might be motivated by someone, someone might be pulling his strings, but when he’s out there operating by himself, it’s a little harder to ascertain exactly what we do about that.
Many of your fellow governors have decided to figure out ways to increase security at some of these recruitment centers, particularly for the National Guard, where governors have authority on that. What are you thinking about doing as far as Tennessee is concerned?

So we’ll have a directive that comes out today that basically asks the adjudicant general to review the safety at all of our facilities, not just our armories, but the storefront recruiting units. We have those like the one that was attacked on Thursday. And then number two, reviewing where it’s appropriate for our officers to be armed to a better degree than they were in the past, both where that’s appropriate and where it’s legal.
One of the challenges we have is that many of our armories, many of our facilities are federal facilities. So we don’t want to put our adjudicant generals in a difficult position of giving them an order that they can’t carry out because it’s on a federal facility. So we’re doing a complete review to see what we can. We’re concerned, obviously. We don’t want to leave our folks out there as targets when we’ve had such a horrible event happen just three days ago.

So you may need an act of Congress?

Well, ultimately that would help clear things up. Because on federal grounds, we have limited authority of what we can do. We’re going to do everything we can. End of the day, it will be a lot better if we have clarity from the federal side.

Governor Haslam, I know it’s been tough on you, tough on your state, my condolences to there and thank you for coming on this morning.

Well, thank you. Chattanooga’s a great city with a broken heart. We have some people that have reacted well. I think all of us mourn for four marines and a sailor who are lost and their families that are suffering today.

Absolutely. Governor, thanks very much.

Note: The video is HERE.

A previous post is HERE.