NASHVILLE -- Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, says he will introduce a bill granting immunity and personal liability for Tennessee National Guard members now able to go armed after the July 16 attacks in Chattanooga.
"Our Tennessee National Guardsmen have become targets of terrorists as demonstrated by the tragic events in Chattanooga," said Briggs, a retired U.S. Army colonel with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The intent of the bill, he said in his news release, "is to provide the service member legal cover in defending him or herself and others during a terrorist attack.
"I believe my fellow Tennesseans and state legislators will agree this protection is necessary for our Guardsmen," Briggs added.
During his shooting rampage, Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez first attacked a U.S. military recruiting center in a strip mall off Lee Highway with semi-automatic weapons. Next door was a Tennessee National Guard recruiting station.
Abdulazeez then speed off to Amnicola Highway where he attacked the Navy and Marine Reserve Center where he killed four Marines and a sailor before dying himself in a hail of bullets fired by Chattanooga police officers.
Federal officials have stopped short of calling Abdulazeez, a Kuwait-born 24 year old whose family says suffered from depression and other problems, a terrorist. Instead, they describe him as a "homegrown violent extremist."
The shootings forced a reevaluation of state and U.S. policies regarding the arming of soldiers based on U.S. soil.
Tennessee Adj. Gen. Max Haston, acting on Gov. Bill Haslam's instructions, issued a new policy allowing Guard members with state-issued handgun carry permits to carry them at state-owned facilities such as armories.
At facilities either owned by the U.S. military or co-located with federal personnel, select state personnel with 9 mm-pistol training will be armed under new federal policies rising from the Chattanooga attack.
Meanwhile, top U.S. military brass are expected to report on Friday to Defense Secretary Ash Carter on their recommendations.
"The attack in Chattanooga reminds us of the constant threat, on and off the battlefield, facing our brave men and women in uniform," Briggs said and added his bill "will strengthen current security measures implemented by the Adjutant General to help protect them."