- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - More officers will likely carry guns at National Guard facilities across South Carolina after a safety review prompted by last week’s shootings in Tennessee, Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday.

“The safety of our men and women in uniform is paramount, and I fully expect that this rolling review, starting this week, will result in the arming of some of our Guardsmen,” Haley said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Last Thursday, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire at a military recruiting office and a Navy-Marine operations center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines. A sailor wounded in the attack died Saturday.

Haley said she authorized Adjutant General Bob Livingston to send review teams to all National Guard recruiting stations, armories and installations over the next week, then designate armed officers based on vulnerability.

Maj. Gen. Livingston oversees the state’s 11,000 member Military Department, which includes the Army National Guard and Air National Guard.

A Guard spokesman, Maj. Cindi King, said some Guard members already can carry a gun because of their security duties. The review will determine whether that needs to be expanded.

Livingston’s office continually assesses security at Guard facilities, especially amid rising Islamic State concerns, King said.

Any changes after this review will not be released “because it’s counterproductive to security,” she said.

It will include evaluating whether any physical changes should be made to the sites, which could range from windows to entry gates, King said.

Whether any of those changes would address $30 million worth of maintenance backlogs at Guard armories is unclear.

Most of the 67 armories statewide are rated in poor condition. Five are considered failing, director of Guard facilities Col. Andrew Batten told The Associated Press last month before legislators decided how to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of unexpected revenue.

If the state provided $15 million, the Guard could apply to the federal government for the other half, Batten said.

“There are any number of deficiencies a unit has to work around,” from leaky roofs to inadequate restrooms, especially for women, he said at the time.

House and Senate leaders proposed paying for armory maintenance through borrowing. But Haley’s opposition helped kill the proposed borrowing packages, which largely funded college construction.

The state budget package that took effect July 1 included $1.5 million for armory maintenance. Most of the surplus went toward roadwork.

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