A WhiteHouse.gov petition to honor the servicemen who used their personal weapons to return fire at the Chattanooga gunman passed 20,000 signatures on its way to the 100,000 names needed to generate a presidential response.
The petition's author wrote that those who returned fire saved lives during July's brazen assault on two Chattanooga military installations, and requested that they be invited as the president's special guests at the next State of the Union.
However, by carrying and using their personal firearms, those same servicemen may have violated Department of Defense regulations that prohibit most service members from being armed on U.S. soil, including most personnel at reserve and recruiting centers like the ones targeted by Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez in Chattanooga.
The petition gained additional visibility over the weekend as rumors originating with a blog run by former U.S. Rep. Allen West indicated that the Navy intended to file formal charges against Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim White, who has acknowledged to the Times Free Press that he opened fire with his personal weapon.
The Navy issued a statement denying that any charges have been filed, though it did not dispute the claim that it was planning to file charges later.