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Lawmakers Look To Arm NC National Guard Members

North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs

North Carolina legislators are considering a bill that allows the North Carolina National Guard to arm its service members at recruiting centers.

State Senator Dan Soucek  sponsored the measure in response to last month's killing of five servicemen outside a Navy Reserve center in Chattanooga, T.N. Soucek said policy keeping Guardsmen unarmed makes them potential targets for terrorists.

"The armed, law-abiding, trained person is such a minimal risk compared to the risk of not being able to protect themselves," Soucek said.

At least seven states have begun arming National Guard recruiting officers since the Tennessee shooting. However, the Pentagon has not changed its policy prohibiting federal military recruiters from carrying weapons.

Pamela Walker, spokesperson for the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state National Guard, said the bill requires the Guard to designate specific service members to carry weapons.

"Ultimately, that decision will be up to the Adjutant General. He would decide which guard members would be armed while on state duty. It's not a blanket for all Guard members to be armed while on duty," Walker said.

The bill passed in the state Senate this week and is headed to the House.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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