The Navy will be placing armed watch-standers at recruiting stations nationwide. The decision comes more than a year after seeing shootings at a recruiting station and a reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which claimed the lives of four Marines and one sailor.
The decision was made after reviewing the findings in a broad investigation into the security of Navy buildings outside major bases, like reserve centers and recruiting stations open to the public, which did not have armed guards.
“We are in the final stages of preparations for implementation” of the policy, said Cmdr. Dave Aliberti, policy branch head for Fleet Forces Command’s anti-terrorism, force protection directorate. “It is going to be a system put in place to arm personnel that are there for deterrent value and to provide protection.”
The guards will be trained, uniformed sailors, strictly for security of the building, said one official on background. That official also confirmed the guards will not be authorized to respond to other crimes within in the area, which is prohibited by law.
While citizens and lawmakers have long made the cry for service members and recruiters to be allowed to carry their personal firearms to work for their protection, Aliberti said that was looked at in great detail, but is not being considered.
“Because of the nature of their mission it’s something less than ideal to have every recruiter armed when their mission is engagement with the public,” he said. “While that would be one extreme, it’s not something that is being considered seriously at this time.”
Navy leaders have also been less than enthusiastic about allowing sailors to bring their guns on bases. In an April interview with Navy Times and Defense News, the Navy’s top officer said the idea was on the table but that he was concerned about a situation where more guns are present during a shooting creating confusion for law enforcement.
“It is on the table for sure,” said Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations. “You know, I get questions: ‘What about concealed carry if I’ve got a license to carry a weapon what about that?’
“That raises a lot of concerns just in terms of controlling a certain area when it breaks out. Again, a thoughtful approach to this [is best], we don’t want to restrict our solution set upfront.”