CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – This month, the Oklahoma National Guard (OKNG) has moved quickly to staff guidelines and implementation measures for immediately arming certain military personnel at National Guard facilities across the state. Additionally, force protection and security measures for every facility under the control of the National Guard were being reevaluated and enhanced, if necessary.
The OKNG took these actions in accordance with Governor Mary Fallin’s Executive Order issued July 17 to the Adjutant General for Oklahoma, Maj. Gen. Robbie L. Asher, authorizing the use of weapons to protect personnel and property.
“Our Soldiers and Airmen greatly appreciated Governor Fallin’s immediate response to better ensure their safety in the wake of the tragedy in Chattanooga,” said Asher. “She was the first governor in the country to step up and authorize the Guard to arm personnel in an effort to protect our servicemen and women from those that wish to do them harm.”
Each American state’s governor is the commander in chief of the National Guard in her or his state.
Army and Air National Guard regulations allow for the arming of certain military personnel and the Oklahoma National Guard moved to decide which Soldiers and Airmen will now routinely carrying firearms.
The OKNG expects those arming decisions will be rapidly implemented across the state.
The Guard operates eight storefront recruiting centers like the one in Chattanooga, Tenn., where four Marines and a Sailor were slain on Thursday, July 16.
State Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, issued a statement soon after Gov. Fallin's executive order. In all, seven states, including Oklahoma, have ordered their Guardsmen to be armed at recruitment centers following the killing of four Marines and a Navy sailor by an Islamic extremist in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Rep. Kannady, in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations, said:
“After some reflection following the tragic loss of our Marines and Sailor in Tennessee, I believe we need to take steps to further protect those who devote their lives to protect us.
I have had the honor to serve in the Marine Corps, and I now serve in the Oklahoma Guard. As the only active member of the Oklahoma Guard in the Legislature, I have a vested interest in protecting my fellow Guardsmen. Although I appreciate and commend Gov. Fallin for taking the first step in protecting Oklahoma’s full time Guardsmen, it does not protect the thousands of part-time Guardsmen that give up at least one weekend a month to serve our state and country.
With the training we as service members receive, we should be allowed to open carry weapons while in uniform in a drill or full-time status for self-defense purposes. Our finest citizens are put in harm’s way overseas in a time a war; therefore, we should do our very best to protect them at home, even if it that means we give them the means to protect themselves if they so choose.”
States where chief executives have moved to implement their own versions of Oklahoma Gov. Fallins new policy include Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana.
NOTE: Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.