Bevin wants military personnel to have guns on duty; Beshear says current rules allow it

07/21/2015 03:59 PM

Following the deadly attacks in Chattanooga, Tenn., one Republican lawmaker and GOP gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin are calling on Gov. Steve Beshear to allow service members access to firearms, something Beshear says is already allowed.

On Thursday, Mohammad Abdulazeez took the lives of five service members in Tennessee. The shootings, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism, started at a Chattanooga National Guard recruiting center in a strip mall. Afterwards, Abdulazeez drove to a local Navy operations center, where he killed four Marines and a sailor.

Now a handful of governors are authorizing National Guard and other military personnel to carry weapons while on duty.

On Tuesday Bevin called on Kentucky’s governor to do the same.

“As a U.S. Army veteran, I call on Governor Beshear to immediately issue an Executive Order allowing National Guard and reserve personnel the option of being armed while on duty,” Bevin said in a statement. “This is an appropriate and necessary security measure that will increase the protection of our military service members. Those that we trust to defend our nation deserve no less than the ability to defend themselves.”

Speaking at a press conference in the state Capitol on Tuesday, Beshear responded to the calls for additional security and more access to weapons — something he says Kentucky reservists already have.

“We, Kentucky, actually has been proactive in this area,” Beshear said. “And number one, our active guard members, assuming that their commanding officer authorizes it, can already carry weapons.

“We also have a policy that was put in place back in 2013 that allows our guard that are on active duty in any of our facilities or recruiting stations to carry concealed weapons and go through the conceal carry process,” he continued. “And so we anticipated the possibility of these kind of things happening, and we have addressed that, and General Tonini feels that we are in a good spot in terms of providing our active duty guard with all of the security and all of the protections right now that we can.”

Bevin was not the first in the GOP to call on the governor to issue an executive order. On Monday, Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, called on Beshear “to take any and all steps necessary to protect all military recruitment offices and National Guard facilities within the Commonwealth,” according to a press release.

Upon learning that “the Kentucky National Guard has stated their members are already covered under existing laws dealing with conceal carry in Kentucky,” Bratcher said he wants to expand that access.

“What I am asking for, either by executive order or legislation in the 2016 session, is beyond what the Kentucky National Guard allows under current statue, in that it would allow all National Guard members, not just those who have conceal carry permits, the ability to be armed now instead of having to wait weeks or months to obtain a permit,” Bratcher said.

“I am also in the process of exploring the ability for our National Guard members to be able to carry in other public buildings like schools, and also in private strip malls where many military recruitment centers are located.”

According to the governor’s office, the Kentucky National Guard’s existing policy allows for the concealed carry of weapons in uniform on state property or anywhere Kentucky state law allows, including recruiting stations, training facilities, armories, administrative offices and on state property.

Video from Beshear’s Capitol press conference by Pure Politics reporter Kevin Wheatley.


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