TN congressmen unite on arming military recruiters

U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Steve Cohen on Monday co-introduced the “Enhancing Safety at Military Installations Act” with all other Tennessee representatives as co-sponsors, reports The Tennessean.

The South Pittsburg Republican and Memphis Democrat rarely see eye to eye legislatively, but they decided to work together on a change they believe is vital to keep military personnel safe.

“This commonsense, bipartisan legislation recognizes that we face a new era where terrorism and extremism exists both abroad and domestically. Therefore our men and women in uniform must have the ability to protect themselves regardless of where they are serving,” DesJarlais said in a media release.

…”We know our military facilities and recruitment centers are targets, and the five victims of last week’s attack in Chattanooga are sad evidence that more must be done to keep them safe,” Cohen said in the release.

Several Republican presidential candidates are among the many politicians, officials and citizens calling for changing the law. The Pentagon is in the process of reviewing ways to improve safety at its facilities across the country, but The Wall Street Journal and others have cited military sources who argue budget constraints could make measures such as armed guards at every recruiting facility a longshot.

Note: Press release below.

News release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressmen Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04) and Steve Cohen (TN-09) today introduced their bipartisan Enhancing Safety at Military Installations Act with the support of the entire Tennessee House Delegation.

This legislation would require the Department of Defense to issue a directive permitting members of the Armed Forces who have received firearms training and are authorized to use firearms to carry military-issued firearms on bases and recruitment facilities.

Most servicemen and women, including those trained in proper firearm use and safety, have been prohibited from carrying military-issued firearms on military bases and recruitment centers since a 1992 Department of Defense Directive issued by President George H.W. Bush’s Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald J. Atwood.

“Far too often we have witnessed horrific acts of violence carried out against members of our armed forces right here in the United States,” said Representative DesJarlais. “Unfortunately, current DOD policy leaves our military personnel unable to defend themselves in many of these situations. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation recognizes that we face a new era where terrorism and extremism exists both abroad and domestically. Therefore our men and women in uniform must have the ability to protect themselves regardless of where they are serving. I am proud to work with Representative Cohen on this issue and I appreciate the support we have received from our Tennessee colleagues.”

“Those who volunteer to protect Americans abroad should not be prevented from protecting themselves when they return home,” said Congressman Cohen. “We know our military facilities and recruitment centers are targets, and the five victims of last week’s attack in Chattanooga are sad evidence that more must be done to keep them safe. I look forward to working with Congressman DesJarlais and a united Tennessee House Delegation to ensure we aren’t unnecessarily putting our well-trained servicemen and women in harm’s way.”