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Marines reject calls to arm recruiters in wake of July 16 Chattanooga attack

By SHELLY BRADBURY | Chattanooga Times/Free Press, Tenn. (Tribune News Service) | Published: September 9, 2015

The U.S. Marines will not arm recruiters in the wake of the July 16 attack in Chattanooga that killed five service members, the Marine Corps Recruiting Command public affairs office confirmed Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, the top general at the Marine Corp. Recruiting Command, told The Marine Corps Times on Tuesday that officials have ruled out arming recruiters but will implement other safety measures.

The debate about whether military recruiters should be armed started hours after a lone gunman attacked two military sites in Chattanooga and killed four Marines and a U.S. Navy specialist. The gunman, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, opened fire on several military recruiting officers in a strip mall near Highway 153, then attacked a second site on Amnicola Highway a few minutes away.

After the attack, some state and national officials argued that recruiters and other military personnel stationed on U.S. soil should begin carrying weapons. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam temporarily ordered National Guard recruiters out of strip malls and into armories, and governors in a handful of other states ordered that National Guard recruiters be armed.

Some citizens even took it upon themselves to bring guns and stand guard outside military recruiting centers like the one attacked in Chattanooga, prompting the Pentagon to ask that they stop.

Currently, Department of Defense regulations prohibit most service members from being armed on U.S. soil, including most personnel at reserves and recruiting centers.

The Marine Corps Recruiting Command's decision not to arm recruiters only applies to Marine recruiters, and does not impact other branches of the military or Marines on reserves.

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