Former senior military officers who are sharpshooters and have served in top government posts are urging caution after calls in Congress and elsewhere to arm domestic service members after last week's deadly rampage in Tennessee, McClatchy Newspapers reports. After Kuwaiti-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot up a Chattanooga military recruiting center and killed four Marines and a sailor at a Navy Reserve center, lawmakers have pushed to allow all personnel on bases inside the U.S. to carry weapons. Weapons were barred from military bases under President Bill Clinton. The prohibition was drafted by aides to his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush.
“It is clear that our military personnel have become targets, not just abroad but on American soil as well,” said Rep. Scott DesJarlais, (R-TN), who introduced a bill yesterday to remove the two-decade-long ban. “Therefore, they must be given the tools to defend themselves.” From Florida to Texas and North Carolina, governors in at least six states have authorized their National Guard units to be armed, moved them to fortified armories or taken other steps to increase security. Retired Navy Cmdr. Rick Nelson, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies who held national security posts under the younger Bush, says arming domestic service members would be an exaggerated response to the shootings in Chattanooga. “These instances are terribly tragic, but given how many military installations and recruiting stations there are, they are pretty low in numbers,” he said. “And arming all individuals to stop these low-probability events is not going to produce the intended result.”