- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A group of veterans has been gathering outside of a Madison military recruitment center to protest a law barring active-duty members who work at such sites from being armed.

The veterans say they plan to keep showing up at the facility near the city’s East Towne Mall until the law is changed.

Their protest follows last week’s killing of five servicemen in attacks on a military recruiting office and a Navy-Marine operations center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The man who allegedly carried out the attacks later died in a shootout with police.

Although there is no indication that the Madison site has been threatened, the veterans say they want to show they stand in solidarity with the active-duty military members who work at such centers, Veteran Dave Walters told WKOW-TV (https://bit.ly/1TNMcU9 ).

“We love these guys like they’re our brothers and sisters,” said veteran Dave Walters.

At least one of the veterans, who declined to give his name, said he’s armed legally with a concealed carry permit. He said he was hoping to protect the recruiters inside the building, including his son, because they’re not allowed to carry weapons.

Troops at recruiting and reserve offices aren’t allowed to have guns. Active service members only are allowed to carry weapons when they’re performing law enforcement duties, like standing guard at the gates of federal military bases, said retired Marine 1st Sgt. Tim La Sage.

He said he thinks this leaves personnel inside military bases or recruiting sites vulnerable and unable to protect themselves.

“If people are being threatened in our country, not just overseas, and are being targeted for their military affiliation, we have an obligation as leaders to protect our troops,” La Sage said.

Military officials have said the Pentagon shouldn’t rush to change the ban because arming troops in those facilities could cause more problems than it might solve.

Since last week’s attacks, several governors have authorized their states’ National Guardsmen to take up arms to protect recruiting installations.

Gov. Scott Walker, who is seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, issued an executive order Tuesday to allow Wisconsin National Guard’s adjutant general to arm his troops. On Friday, he called for an end of the ban on service members carrying guns in military recruiting offices.

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Information from: WKOW-TV, https://www.wkow.com

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