- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Hundreds of Arkansas National Guard soldiers are being trained this week on when they should use firearms, which some will now carry at Guard installations across the state.

The training complies with Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s executive order last week in response to the July 16 deadly shooting at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Four Marines and a sailor were killed in the shooting that occurred at a recruiting center and a naval reserve center.

In his July 20 order, Hutchinson directed the head of the state National Guard to arm guardsmen with the purpose of protecting themselves and others in an attack, marking the first time Arkansas soldiers have been ordered to carry firearms while on regular duty at state facilities, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1LXZgVV ) reported.

“We haven’t experienced this type of threat before, where it seems to be growing such that it really compelled us to take action,” said Lt. Col. Jason Carter, state judge advocate for the Arkansas National Guard. “I think that’s why we saw the reaction we did out of the governor’s office, and we’ve moved as quickly as possible to comply. When the governor speaks, we march.”

Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Joel Lynch said the guardsmen selected to carry the firearms will come from a contingent of full-time soldiers who work at the state’s nine storefront recruiting stations and 55 armories. They will take turns carrying M9 pistols while on duty.

On Tuesday morning at North Little Rock’s Camp Robinson, around 110 soldiers learned about the types of situations in which they would use their firearms and when they should call law enforcement agencies. One scenario where a soldier could use his or her firearm is when an armed civilian is fighting with a soldier.

Afterward, the soldiers were tested at a firing range to become qualified to carry pistols.

Another 150 soldiers were tested later Tuesday. Hundreds more guardsmen were to receive instruction Wednesday and Thursday at Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center in Fort Smith.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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