CARSON CITY, Nevada — Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Donald Trump called Friday for an end to a ban on service members carrying guns in military recruiting offices.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal, another presidential candidate, issued an executive order authorizing the state’s National Guard adjutant general to arm personnel at Guard facilities to provide protection.
The ban at U.S. military recruiting and reserve centers became an issue after a man killed four Marines and wounded a sailor and another Marine on Thursday at a pair of military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“It seems to me that if you have military bases or recruiting offices, these are symbols of American might, they’re targets,” Bush said after a town hall-style event in Carson City, Nevada.
“This is how you garner attention. You go to places where there’s vulnerability, and it’s a very powerful symbolic attack on our country,” said Bush, a former governor of Florida.
Walker, Wisconsin’s governor, linked threats at home and abroad to the need to drop the ban.
“I think with ISIS now and the threats that we have not only abroad, but domestically, when our military in particular is potentially a target, we need to make sure that in places like this, a recruiting facility, they’re able to be armed so our heroes are protected,” Walker said.
Attending a state GOP fundraiser in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Trump said the Chattanooga shooting showed the need for ending “gun-free zones” at military facilities.
“This sick guy had guns and shot them down,” the businessman and reality TV star told reporters. “These are decorated people. These are people who could have handled guns very easily. They would have had a good chance if they had a gun. … If these Marines yesterday, the four of them, had guns they probably, at least some of them, would be with us today.”
Bush said the attacks should prompt the U.S. to heighten national security and “deal with the rest of the world in a more aggressive way.” He said Congress would need to act for the gun ban at recruitment centers to be repealed.
“If the Marines were armed, I think people would’ve known that, and if they had known it, maybe they wouldn’t have come in,” he said. “Who knows. I just think it ought to be reviewed, for sure.”
On Friday, Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, said that security at military recruiting and reserve centers would be reviewed but that it was too early to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other increased protection. He told reporters that arming troops in those offices could cause more problems than it might solve.