MADISON, Wis. — Republican Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order Tuesday authorizing Wisconsin National Guard personnel to carry firearms while on duty in the wake of an attack on a pair of military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The governor said in a news release that he also was directing Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, who oversees the Wisconsin National Guard, to review the long-term security plans for all of its facilities.
"Safety must be our top priority, especially in light of the horrific attack in Chattanooga," Walker said in the release.
Dunbar immediately ordered the posting of armed guardsmen at the guard's four storefront recruiting stations in Eau Claire, La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee, said Maj. Paul Rickert, the guard's spokesman. Visitors to those locations should be prepared to have their bags searched, Rickert said. The guard began a security review Monday evening after learning the order was about to come down, he added.
Walker's order comes after a gunman killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor at two Chattanooga military facilities on Thursday. Authorities say the shooter was 24-year-old Muhammed Youssef Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Kuwait. Police killed him.
Abdulazeez's motives remain unclear, although authorities are treating it as a domestic terrorism investigation.
Walker's order would not affect non-Wisconsin National Guard military offices in the state, which are federally run.
Walker, who is seeking the 2016 presidential nomination, on Friday called for an end on a ban on service members carrying guns in federally operated military recruiting offices. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, two other Republicans seeking the presidential nomination, called for an end to the ban on the same day as Walker.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, yet another GOP presidential hopeful, issued an executive order on Friday authorizing his state's National Guard leader to arm personnel. A number of other governors have issued similar orders as well.
Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais said he has drafted legislation that would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms at military recruitment facilities and bases. Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said he plans to introduce a similar bill.
Meanwhile, a group of veterans has taken to sporadically gathering in front of a joint Marine-Navy recruiting station in Madison. They told WKOW-TV they're protesting the weapons ban, saying it leaves recruiters vulnerable to attack.
The group was not in front of the recruiting station on Tuesday morning.
This story has been corrected to show that the veterans were not in front of the recruiting station on Tuesday morning, not Monday morning. Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1