Certain Tennessee Army & Air National Guard personnel will soon be armed with handguns at state and federal facilities in an effort to increase security after the Chattanooga shootings in July.
Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, announced Thursday that the Military Department has taken steps to increase the security of its personnel and facilities to include allowing Tennessee Army & Air National Guard members with valid Tennessee State Handgun Carry Permits to carry handguns at State Armories and facilities.
Haston’s decision follows Governor Bill Haslam’s directive, issued earlier this month in the aftermath of the deadly shootings in Chattanooga, to review current Guard personnel who are authorized to be armed in the performance of their duties, and identify and arm Guardsmen where necessary to protect themselves, citizens and Guard facilities.
“We have been very deliberate in making the decision to arm our Tennessee National Guard,” said Haston. “This is not a step that we take lightly, but it is apparent that military personnel have been targeted and the protection of our Soldiers and Airmen is of utmost importance. Physical security and risk assessment is something that we continually do as part of our day to day obligations.”
Haston also announced that select National Guard personnel working on Federal facilities would be allowed to carry federally issued handguns.
“Federal law prohibits carrying a personally owned weapon on a Federal facility,” said Haston. “Therefore, selected personnel working on Federal property will draw and carry a federally issued firearm for protection.”
In a letter to members of the Military Department, Haston said staff were preparing directives and operations orders for implementation of the new policy.
Governor Haslam also directed Maj. Gen. Haston to review security policies and procedures at National Guard armories, storefront recruiting facilities and other installations to ensure the safety of Guardsmen, citizens and property.
“Operational security prohibits me from detailing other measures taken to increase the protection of our personnel and facilities, but as I said before, the protection of our Soldiers, Airmen and their families is of the utmost importance and we are doing everything possible to insure their safety,” Haston said.
Under the direction of Governor Haslam, Maj. Gen. Haston immediately moved Army National Guard recruiters from storefront locations to nearby armories after a lone gunman attacked two Chattanooga military facilities, killing four Marines and one Sailor on July 16, 2015. The temporary move allows for Guard personnel to evaluate what measures can be taken to enhance the security of these locations.
“The Military Department will continually evaluate security measures at both its state and federal facilities based on threat information obtained from numerous agencies to insure that our Soldiers, Airmen, civilian employees and their families are safe and secure,” said Haston.
Photo Credit: A memorial outside the Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga