Bell, Matheny launch legislator response to Chattanooga murders

State Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma and Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville, both Republicans, are apparently leading state legislators in calls for doing something in response to the murders of servicemen in Chattanooga. Here are their releases to media:

News release sent through Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE — State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) announced today that he has filed a resolution calling for federal action to end gun-free zones at military facilities. Bell drafted the resolution in the wake of the attack on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday.

Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez killed U.S. Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith, Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, Marine Corps Sergeant Carson Holmquist, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Skip Wells, and Marine Corps Staff Sergeant David Wyatt during the attack. Military facilities and personnel have been threatened by jihadists plotting to conduct violence within the United States.

“We cannot in good conscience send young men and women abroad to fight our enemy only to disarm them when they serve here at home,” said Senator Bell. “Our military men and women have the inherent right to carry a firearm and the training to do so effectively and responsibly. It has now been clearly established that our soldiers, sailors, marines and airman are targets of jihadi terror. We must give them the means to defend themselves — and us –when the War on Terror hits home.”

“This policy developed over two decades ago, was a very bad decision and certainly does not recognize current threats of terrorism faced by our military facilities today,” added Bell. “It should be removed immediately. The continuation of the policy makes facilities across the nation a prime target for acts of terrorism like the horrific attack in our state.”

The gun free zone sign was visible on the door of the facilities which were ridden with bullet holes fired by Abdulazeez. On Sunday, Governor Bill Haslam issued a directive to Tennessee 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 permits to trained members of the military.

The resolution filed by Bell states, “we hereby urge Congress and the President of the United States to review and revise law and policy regarding the carrying of firearms by military service members on military installations or facilities so that military personnel can both help prevent and more readily defend themselves from terrorist attacks against such facilities.” (Note: It’s SJR391.)

In 2009, U.S. Army Private William “Andy” Long was shot and killed outside a Little Rock, Arkansas, recruiting center by a Jihadist terrorist, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe). Bledsoe was also from Tennessee.

“The tragedy in Chattanooga serves as a grave reminder of the enemy we face,” added Bell. “Hopefully, we will see quick action by Congress or the President to change this policy before the Tennessee General Assembly returns in January. But if they do not, this resolution will be ready expressing the people of Tennessee’s strongest recommendation that we give our soldiers the tools they need to defend themselves if attacked in the future.”

From Rep. Judd Matheny, offer to media as an op-ed piece:

I extend my sincerest condolences to the families of our servicemen whose lives were taken in a horrific act of planned terrorism. Having served both in the military and as a law enforcement officer in Tennessee, I have a deep and abiding gratitude and respect for anyone who chooses to serve in uniform.

Acts of terrorism are intended to make us feel powerless to respond. Tennessee has again witnessed the reality that our state is not immune from these acts of cowardice.

We first learned this lesson in 2009 when Carlos Bledsoe, a Tennessee State University student from Memphis, shot and killed Pvt. Andrew Long at the Little Rock, Arkansas Army recruiting center. With further investigation, we learned that between his days as a student and the day he became a murderer, Carlos began attending meetings at the Nashville Islamic Center, changed his name to Abdulhakim Mohammed, and spent several months in Yemen, a known terrorist training location.

It is now clear that Carlos Bledsoe’s murderous actions were not a random act or as often excused, that of a “lone wolf”. In response to those findings and to possibly stop future Carlos Bledsoes, Senator Bill Ketron and I led the General Assembly in passing a law in 2011, enhancing the criminal punishment for acts of terrorism, including jihadi terrorism, by both the perpetrators and the supporters of the violence.

Earlier this year, we realized that more needed to be done. We passed another law, known familiarly as “Andy’s Law”, named for Pvt. Andrew Long, the soldier Carlos Bledsoe murdered. This new law addresses the very situation we are now facing in Chattanooga. While the jihadist responsible for the murders is dead and cannot be prosecuted, under this new law, all individuals and all organizations who recruited, assisted, incited, or in any way supported Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez in his jihad, are subject to vastly more severe civil penalties on the state level.

Now is the time to put “Andy’s Law” into action to prosecute the planned and calculated violence in Chattanooga.

Jihadi terrorism is neither a random act nor a result of “lone wolf” perpetrators. We must use every option that we now have and those that we will devise in the future to protect ourselves from the simmering violence that is brewing in Tennessee’s communities.

Most of our state’s top leadership have skirted around the issues of security from terrorism in Tennessee. We can no longer ignore the security implications hidden in legal immigration issues, federal threats to free speech, refugee resettlement issues, indirect support of the Obama administration’s blind eye to burgeoning illegal immigrant traffic, and attempts to pass state laws equalizing rights and state benefits for illegal inhabitants in Tennessee to those of legal inhabitants.