Earlier this year, four unarmed US Marines and a Navy sailor were killed in an attack on a military recruiting center and another US military site in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The shooting raised questions over whether security policies should be updated to allow armed personnel inside recruitment offices.
In response, Virginia Delegate Scott Taylor (R-City of Virginia Beach), a former Navy SEAL and Iraq War veteran, recently filed commonsense legislation making Virginia concealed-carry permits possessed by National Guardsmen applicable while they are on duty at such places as recruitment centers.
“Our citizen soldiersshould have the same ability we have to defend themselves, their peers, or their families,” Taylor stated. “From stated targets by Islamic terrorists online to an actual attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the threat is clearly real.”
Taylor’s bill would not stop military commanders’ decision to prevent concealed carry, where it may be determined doing so would interfere with training or other exercises.
The new legislation comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this year by Defense Department (DOD) Secretary Ashton Carter calling for a review of existing policies regarding having more armed personnel to guard recruitment offices and other off-base military installations.
“The tragic shooting on July 16 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, illustrates the continuing threat to DOD personnel in the US homeland posed by Homegrown Violent Extremists,” Carter wrote in a memo. “This incident and the ongoing threat underscore the need for DOD to review its force protection and security policies, and procedures, particularly for off-installation DOD facilities.”
In the wake of the Chattanooga shooting, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), included an amendment to The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016 which grants authority to military base commanders to allow concealed carry of firearms on military installations, either for personal defense or as a force multiple, if they deem it necessary.
“Texas has twice mourned the loss of our soldiers and civilians after shootings at Fort Hood just north of my district. In 2009, Nidal Hassan walked into Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Center, shouted Allahu Akbar, and opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 42 others in the most horrific terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11,” McCaul said in a statement.
He added, “Five years later, another shooter opened fire on the base, killing four and wounding 16 others. Enough is enough. We must give our base commanders more discretion and our soldiers more protection. Thousands of my constituents in Texas already exercise this right responsibly. It is time for our service members to be allowed to do the same.”
These recent shootings were not the only impetus behind the NDAA amendment. As Homeland Security Today has reported on multiple occasions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI and Pentagon have repeatedly issued alerts about the possibility of a lone wolf attack specifically targeting military and law enforcement. The FBI and DHS issued a joint bulletin in last December warning that ISIS was publicly encouraging attacks on US military personnel.
The bulletin stated, “There will be a continued call — by the Islamic State and their supporters — for lone offender attacks against Western security forces (both military and law enforcement). These threats will likely increase as the US and its allies continue to carryout airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.”
According to a recent Rasmussen Report, 81 percent of military servicemen and women want the ability to carry a concealed weapon on stateside military bases, and only 15 percent oppose allowing concealed-carry on bases, while 4 percent are undecided.
"It’s extremely important that we give our military members who are targets the right to defend themselves," Taylor commented in August, adding, “We are talking about people who are off military installations who don’t have any way to protect themselves, who are given potentially a concealed, the ability to have a concealed weapon to protect themselves.”