Florida governor orders National Guard recruiters to leave storefront locations
Gov. Rick Scott ordered Florida National Guard recruiters on Saturday to work from nearby armories.
(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Gov. Rick Scott ordered Florida National Guard recruiters on Saturday to work from nearby armories after attacks in Tennessee that killed four Marines and one sailor.
In an executive order, the Republican governor said he wants recruiters to move from six storefront locations into armories until state officials can evaluate and make security improvements, including possibly installing bullet-proof glass or enhanced surveillance equipment.
Since the Tennessee shootings, security at recruiting centers has come under scrutiny. Military officials have said security at recruiting and reserve centers will be reviewed, but the Army's top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, said it's too early to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other increased protection.
Scott's order also calls on National Guard officers to make sure all full-time members of the guard are armed. The governor said a weapon will be given to members of the guard who do not currently have them.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter late Friday asked the military services to determine if additional steps can be taken to ensure people are safe at military installations, and said he wants a report back by the end of next week.
The comments came as Navy officials confirmed a separate incident outside Atlanta, where a recruiter accidently shot himself in the leg with his personal .45-caliber pistol while discussing the Tennessee shootings with one of his recruits. Officials said he showed the sailor the unloaded gun, then reloaded it and inadvertently discharged it as he was putting it back in his holster.
Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais said he has drafted legislation entitled the "Enhancing Safety at Military Installations Act" that would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms on military recruitment facilities and bases.
"Our men and women in uniform are owed the right to protect themselves and others while in service of our country," he said earlier this week. "While it is uncertain as to whether this legislation would have made an impact in this particular situation, it is clear that our military personnel have become targets, not just abroad, but on American soil as well. Therefore they must be given the tools to defend themselves."
As The Christian Science Monitor reported, while it may be relatively easy to beef up security at other military facilities, recruitment stations are something of an outlier.
By definition, they need to be welcoming and open. The job of a recruiter is literally to be an entry point into the military – though for those interested in serving. Barbed wire, concrete barriers, and other physical manifestations of security would likely interfere with this mission.
“We can’t have barricaded centers. We can’t have places where we recruit young men and women that look like a fortress. We have to have a connection to the American people,” Brian Lepley, a spokesman for US Army Recruiting Command, told the Army Times.
Other officials pointed out that the centers had defensive plans in place, and they worked. The fatalities occurred at the fenced in Support and Reserve Center.