Pa. lawmakers call to arm National Guard

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – There’s plenty of firepower at Fort Indiantown Gap and its often on display as the National Guard trains, but with few exceptions the men and women in the National Guard and working on the base aren’t allowed to be armed.

“They’re behind the mountain almost every weekend shooting the big guns,” state Rep. Russ Diamond said. “I think they can shoot the small guns as well.”

The Gap is in Diamond’s Lebanon County district and he’s one of many lawmakers who signed a letter asking Governor Tom Wolf to issue an executive order allowing Pennsylvania National Guard recruiters and personnel to carry firearms while on the job. It comes in the wake of a base shooting in Tennessee that killed four Marines and a sailor.

Diamond calls it ridiculous that armed citizens are now protecting the military, who’s job it is to protect civilians.

“I’ve seen pictures where citizens with AR-15’s are standing guard at recruiting centers simply because the people in there can’t carry their sidearms, the people who are trained to carry firearms and operate firearms on a regular basis,” he said.

Wolf is to meet with military and law enforcement advisers on this very topic, which his spokesman calls a priority. In a statement he said, “Governor Wolf shares the concerns of many about the safety of our military members and recruiters in light of the horrific act of violence in Tennessee.”

Some safety experts say arming all National Guard personnel creates its own dangers, especially for war-weary soldiers suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. Diamond discounts that and says the 1992 federal law prohibiting the firearms on bases and recruiting stations needs to be revisited.

“We don’t have the same kind of world we lived in since 1992,” he said. “We don’t have regular shootings at military bases like we’ve seen lately. We need to allow our military personnel to exercise their right of self defense.”

Governors of seven states have taken action to allow their National Guard members to carry firearms.

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