Gov. Nathan Deal stands pat on arming National Guard after Tennessee shootings

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will not order National Guardsmen to arm themselves at bases and recruiting centers across the state Saturday in the aftermath of attacks on two military facilities in Tennessee.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the governor made the decision after consulting with Georgia National Guard leader Joe Jarrard. He said the two concluded that no policy change was needed "because current state law allows members of the Guard to arm themselves if they choose to."

Deal's decision comes after governors  in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma signed executive orders that commanded Guardsmen to arm themselves. And Florida Gov. Rick Scott told National Guard recruiters at six storefront stations to move to a nearby armory, and called for a review of security at Guard recruitment centers.

Security for military recruitment centers is under increased scrutiny since Thursday's shootings. Authorities say

U.S. military officials are reviewing the century-old law that bans its troops at recruiting and reserve offices from carrying guns. But some have cautioned that the Pentagon shouldn't change the law because it could cause new problems. They note that recruiting stations are often in strip malls or high-traffic urban areas with the aim of being inviting to the public.

Already several Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers have called on the White House to end the ban on service members carrying guns in military recruiting offices. And a Tennessee Congressman has drafted legislation that would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms on military recruitment facilities and bases.

That ban, though, does not extend to National Guardsmen under control of state leaders.

Here's some backstory on the ban from the Associated Press:

The ban is largely due to legal issues, such as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. U.S. forces don't routinely carry guns when they are not in combat or on military bases. And Pentagon officials are sensitive to any appearance of armed troops within the United States.

"We're always going to be somewhat vulnerable to a lone wolf, or whatever you want to call it, a surprise shooter, because we are out there with the population and that's where we have to be," Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.