The U.S. Marines will not arm recruiters in the wake of the July 16 attack in Chattanooga, officials confirmed Wednesday.
"Arming Marine recruiters would interfere with recruiter interaction with the public in many places, such as on school campuses and in the homes of prospective applicants," Jim Edwards, Marine Corps Recruiting Command deputy director of public affairs, wrote in an email. "Recruiters showing up armed is not going to make either educators or parents comfortable."
Instead, officials will consider other security upgrades such as adding security cameras, remote-locking doors, or ballistic protection such as movable shields and desk partitions to protect recruiters during possible future attacks such as the one in Chattanooga, when a lone gunman attacked two military sites in the city and killed five service members.
Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, first opened fire on a military recruiting center in a shopping center along Lee Highway on July 16, wounding one Marine recruiter, before driving across town and attacking a reserve facility near Amnicola Highway.
The attack sparked a national debate on whether recruiters and other military personnel stationed on U.S. soil should begin carrying weapons. Under current federal regulations, most service members are prohibited from being armed at reserves and recruiting centers. After the attack, some politicians called for service members to be armed and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter asked military branches to review their security policies.
The Tennessee National Guard tweaked its rules after the attack to allow some recruiters to be armed while at work, and governors in at least four other states ordered that National Guard recruiters be armed.
In the days after the attack, some citizens even took it upon themselves to bring guns and stand guard outside military recruiting centers such as the one attacked in Chattanooga, prompting the Pentagon to ask that they stop.
But arming recruiters is not a move the Marines will echo, wrote Edwards, who is based in Quantico, Va.
"Arming recruiters is not a security measure the Marine Corps Recruiting Command desires," he wrote. "Marine recruiters have worked hard to build relationships with members of communities, and this isn't something Marine leaders want to jeopardize."
The Marine Corps Recruiting Command's decision not to arm recruiters only applies to Marine recruiters, and does not impact other branches of the military or Marines on reserve.
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or email@example.com with tips or story ideas.