- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma National Guard is finalizing guidelines to allow soldiers and airmen at recruiting stations and other facilities across the state to carry firearms, a Guard spokesman said Tuesday.

Guard officials are identifying members who would be eligible to carry a government-issued sidearm following Gov. Mary Fallin’s executive order last week after the shooting deaths of four Marines and a sailor at a facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“Within that group of eligible soldiers who are permitted to carry a weapon, then we’ll identify the most qualified within that group and arm soldiers based on need at the various facilities and the storefront recruiting stations,” said Col. Max Moss, a spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard.

Fallin’s executive order last week authorized Oklahoma’s Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Robbie Asher to arm full-time military personnel at military installations across Oklahoma.

“Our soldiers and airmen greatly appreciated Governor Fallin’s immediate response to better ensure their safety in the wake of the tragedy in Chattanooga,” Asher said in a statement.

Republican governors in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas also have authorized the arming of guardsmen in those states.

The Oklahoma National Guard operates three storefront recruiting centers in Oklahoma City, two in Tulsa and one each in Lawton, Midwest City and Norman. The Guard also maintains armories in several communities in Oklahoma, as well as Armed Forces Reserve Centers, which operate in conjunction with military reserve units, in Broken Arrow, Enid, Lawton, McAlester, Muskogee, Mustang and Norman.

Some of the military facilities already have restricted access and employ full-time security guards, Moss said.

“We are carefully examining what force protection and security measures we need to take at all our facilities,” Moss said.

Moss said military officials are primarily considering military-issued sidearms and ammunition, but he said they may develop guidelines for certain soldiers to carry privately owned weapons.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy


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