Jim Webb: Slain Marines should have had guns

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb called for letting service members carry weapons at military facilities in light of the shooting at two Marine recruiting offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this week, in an exclusive interview with msnbc.

Webb, himself a former Marine, said he is not only heartbroken by the shooting but also concerned “about the policies that exposed our people in so many different places, that don¹t allow them to defend themselves.” Since at least 1992, the military has not allowed service members to carry firearms without permission, even if they have state-issued permits to carry weapons. 

“I’ve talked to senior military leadership about this,” he told msnbc. “We really should be allowing our people who are exposed to that threat the tools to defend themselves if something happens.”

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The former Virginia senator was in Iowa to speak at the state party’s Hall of Fame dinner here, the first meeting of all five 2016 Democratic presidential candidates.

Webb said the shooting in Chattanooga hit particularly hard given his background with the Marines. “These are like my family, you know. I was a Marine, my brother was a Marine, my father was Marine, my son was a Marine, in fact this is family. And we can’t just sit here and have these circumstance occur and not do something affirmative about it.”

Webb is taking an unusual path the Democratic nomination, but hoping to expand the party’s electorate by bringing back in traditional constituencies like whites and rural voters.