FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In the wake of last week’s Chattanooga shootings, Indiana is taking steps to increase security at military centers across the state. Governor Pence signed an executive order over the weekend. With it, Indiana National Guard soldiers and airmen can now be armed at recruiting stations and armories.
The new policy started Monday morning and only impacts the state’s national guard facilities. It does not affect other branches like active military, but officials there are considering similar measures. Since Governor Pence oversees the Indiana National Guard, he can act without federal approval.
“As Commander in Chief, quite simply, I will not permit our citizen soldiers to remain unable to defend themselves and our citizens in facilities around the state,” Governor Pence said. “I think it is imperative that we ensure that those who have stepped forward to defend our state and our nation have the ability to defend themselves.”
Governor Pence announced the details of the executive order regarding the new policy Sunday with leaders from the Indiana National Guard by his side.
“The single most important thing to the Indiana National Guard as we serve the nation and the state is the safety and security of our soldiers and airmen and their families,” Adjutant General Courtney Carr said. “I’m extremely appreciative to Governor Pence’s quick action to allow us to increase the protection of our soldiers and airmen.”
Under the policy, Indiana National Guard soldiers and airmen can carry personal handguns at military facilities.
“As long as it’s licensed in the state of Indiana and they meet the safety requirements, then they’re able to carry it inside the armories in a concealed fashion,” Public Affairs Specialist for Joint Force Headquarters Catalina Carrasco said. “This is soldiers and airmen who have a license already to carry a weapon in the state of Indiana.”
In addition to impacting storefront recruiting centers, the new policy also impacts more than 60 armories across the state, including one on the north side of Fort Wayne.
“This new directive from the governor affords our soldiers and airmen increased protection,” Carr said.
For those facilities whose members may not already have a personal weapon, the Indiana National Guard will provide guns on site on a case by case basis.
“That weapon stays at the armory. It’s not something that they will be issued and that they will take home or anything like that,” Carrasco said.
Indiana State Police and Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security will also help implement the new policy.
“We are currently conducting safety training with those members who are wishing to carry their weapon inside our armories,” Carrasco said.
The policy also affects the state’s two air bases, including the 122nd Fighter Wing. The Fort Wayne base already has armed guards, but the policy is also asking for increased security at all of its guard facilities.
“Across this state, there will be members of the National Guard who are armed and that will contribute to their safety, the peace of mind of their families, and that will contribute to the safety and security of our communities,” Pence said.
The new policies aren’t unique to Indiana. Five other governors also ordered the increase in security over the weekend