Governor orders arming of state military personnel | Arkansas Blog

Friday, July 17, 2015

Governor orders arming of state military personnel

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 8:46 PM

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced this evening that, as a result of Thursday's shootings at a Naval reserve center in Chattanooga, he had authorized Arkansas National Guard Adjutant Gen. Mark Henry "to arm full-time military personnel."

The news release carried no further details. I'm attempting to learn if this is an order to arm ALL full-time personnel or just a number to be determined by Berry. The release also was silent on the type of arms that would be required and whether the order would require additional weapon purchases.

The governor ordered flags flown at half-staff on Monday for the four Marines killed, including Arkansas native David Wyatt, a staff sergeant who graduated from Russellville High School.

Hutchinson issued this statement:

"Our hearts break at the news of another senseless act of violence and terror, this time out of Chattanooga,” Governor Hutchinson said. “Our prayers go out to all the families of the victims, especially the family of Staff Sgt. David Wyatt of Russellville, one of Arkansas’s own.

“I want to join in those who are calling for greater security at our recruiting stations and military installations. We’ve had numerous instances of attacks. Clearly they are a target, and for us to have unarmed military personnel makes no sense, which is why I am directing Major General Mark Berry to arm full-time personnel as he deems necessary at military installations.”

These are sensitive times. There have been shootings at military facilities, including one six years ago in Little Rock. The numbers against the number of facilities and personnel is comparatively small, however (only one recorded episode in Arkansas and then not at a National Guard facility). NBC lists several dozen nationally over the last 20 years.

Armed personnel might or might not be useful defense when someone opened fire from a distance with a rifle on groups of people, as has happened. Armed law officers brought down the assailant in Thursday's shootings.

A directive issued in 1992 under the administration of President George H.W. Bush put limits on firearms on military bases but allowed them under certain circumstances.

To limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel. The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried. Evaluation of the necessity to carry a firearm shall be made considering this expectation weighed against the possible consequences of accidental or indiscriminate use of firearms. DoD personnel regularly engaged in law enforcement or security duties shall be armed. [Department of Defense, 2/25/92]

UPDATE: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette quoted a National Guard spokesman said that a select number of the 600 full-time Guard force in Arkansas would be armed at strategic locations.

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