COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday authorized personnel at Ohio National Guard recruitment centers to carry weapons following the shooting in Tennessee that killed four Marines and a sailor, The Associated Press has learned.
At Kasich’s instruction, Major General Mark Bartman, the Adjutant General of Ohio, granted the authorization as part of an update of policies and training requirements for the recruiting centers and a review of all security measures.
“The governor has made it very clear that we must take action to protect our members who are actively engaged in public recruitment efforts,” Bartman said in a statement provided to the AP. “We are updating our policies and strengthening small firearm training so that those men and women staffing our recruitment offices may protect themselves in the event of a threat.”
Gov Kasich told Greta Van Susteren, “We need to be trained and we need to be armed and safe in those recruiting centers. Some of the storefronts are going to close until we can look at all of the security. It’s just very important, look we are talking about the military and they have to be secure. So my view is of course they should be armed.”
Ohio joins several other states where Guard personnel have been authorized to carry weapons after the Chattanooga shooting, whose victims included a sailor who grew up in Paulding in northwestern Ohio and a Marine whose father lives in central Ohio.
Guard personnel have traditionally been unarmed in part because they work on state property, where Ohio law generally prohibits weapons.
Those standing watch outside of the federal and state facilities, armed citizens say it is the right decision. “I applaud Governor Kasich for it, bravo. I hope it is soon, you would think in Ohio or around the nation this is not a political issue it’s an American issue,” Larry Fitzpatrick Jr. Said.
In addition, the Ohio Guard earlier this week temporarily moved personnel from four store-front recruitment offices in Columbus, Dayton, Findlay and Painesville to nearby armories.
The moves are precautionary measures to ensure the safety of military personnel and Ohio citizens, said Guard spokeswoman Major Nicole Ashcroft.
The state has 67 Guard recruiting centers, most of them in the state’s 43 armories or at Guard bases.
Ashcroft said there are no direct threats to guard personnel.
Among other states where Guard recruiting personnel are authorized to carry weapons: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.