NASHVILLE -- Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is looking into the security of National Guard armories, storefront recruiting facilities, and other installations. The governor issued a directive on Sunday to Tennessee Adjutant Gen. Haston, asking him to review the security policies and procedures at those facilities and to make sure that Guardsmen, citizens, and property are safe.
Haslam is also evaluating how handgun carry permits are issued to trained members of the military. He instructed Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons to review the process and look for ways to streamline it.
Governors in four states have now ordered state National Guardsman to be armed or recruitment personnel located to more secure locations after five U.S. service members were killed in a gunman's attacks on two U.S. military facilities in Chattanooga on Thursday.
In response to questions posed by the Times Free Press on Saturday, Haslam Press Secretary David Smith said in an email "the governor has reached out to Gen. Haston, and we're looking at appropriate next steps."
Meanwhile, governors in Indiana, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma have ordered National Guardsmen to be armed or those in recruitment centers relocated to armories or similar facilities.
All the actions come in the wake of 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez's Thursday assaults on a military recruitment center and a Marine training site in Chattanooga. He shot four Marines and a Navy petty officer to death before being killed.
Meanwhile, Joe Carr, a former GOP state lawmaker from Murfreesboro, is blistering Haslam, a fellow Republican, over having "been as silent on the issue of acting in pursuant to his oath of office and his responsibilities as Commander and Chief of the Tennessee National Guard."
"Gov. Haslam: The people are waiting for you to step forward and provide the leadership that five other governors have provided to their states," Carr said. "The time for dithering is over."
The Associated Press reported the ban at federal installations is largely due to legal issues, such as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. That bars the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. U.S. forces don't routinely carry guns when they are not in combat or on military bases. The Pentagon is sensitive to any appearance of armed troops within the United States.
"We're always going to be somewhat vulnerable to a lone wolf, or whatever you want to call it, a surprise shooter, because we are out there with the population and that's where we have to be," said U.S. Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno told reporters Friday, The AP reported.
Military recruiting offices have been attacked before, The AP reported. For example, in June 2009, one soldier was killed and another injured when self-proclaimed jihadist Abdulhakim Muhammad shot them outside a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
More than four years later, there were more personal reasons here at a National Guard armory in Millington, Tenn., Tennessee National Guard recruiter Amos Patton shot and wounded three people in the armory after learning that he was being removed from his job because a female soldier had accused him of sexual assault.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., says he plans to introduce legislation on Mondayallowing U.S. military personnel to go armed.
This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. on July 19.
See more in Sunday's Times Free Press.