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Representative To Challenge Firearms Ban At Military Installations

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Posted at 9:38 PM, Jul 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 05:50:53-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Thursday’s shooting at a Chattanooga Marine Recruitment Center has been renewing the call to remove "gun free zones" at military installations.

The victims courageously served, many in combat where the threat was expected, only to be gunned down at home where they were supposed to be safe. They had no means to fight back.

“They're basically sitting ducks in situations like this,” Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) said. “No one anticipates somebody coming to a recruiting office with a weapon.”

For more than twenty years a Department of Defense directive has banned most military personnel from carrying firearms at military bases and installations like the recruiting center in Chattanooga. Representative DesJarlais wants to change that and has planned to propose legislation on Monday that would allow them to carry guns after receiving training.

“The bottom line is these are trained personnel who know how to handle weapons and in an instance like yesterday,” Representative DesJarlais said. “There's a very good chance that loss of life could've been curtailed.”

“I think that those things could've been prevented by better physical security by bullet proof glass, by metal detectors, guards at the doors,” James Mackler rebutted. “But probably not by having individuals armed.”

Mackler has been an attorney who served ten years active duty in the Army, including a deployment to Iraq and currently serves in the Tennessee Air National Guard. He doesn't oppose arming more military personnel but said it should be voluntary and restricted to higher ranking officials.

“The best way to prevent these attacks it to find the people who might commit those attacks before they have a chance to act,” Macker added.

Chattanooga has now joined the ranks of military tragedies that include Ft. Hood and the Navy Yard. The challenge will be making sure that list doesn't get any longer.

Representative DeJarlais said a number of lawmakers have been calling him to co-sponsor the bill. The Tennessee Firearms Association to Presidential candidates has supported removing the firearms ban. The other side said recruitment centers are supposed to be inviting and imposing too much security could deter people from wanting to enlist.