Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, along with Adjutant General Max Haston and Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, announced today temporary security measures and an accelerated handgun carry permit process for members of the military.
Following Haslam's directive in the wake of the tragic shooting in Chattanooga last week, the Tennessee National Guard, starting on July 20, temporarily repositioned its soldiers in storefront recruiting locations to local National Guard armories, allowing the review of the storefront facilities and what additional security measures are necessary to improve security at these locations.
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security streamlined the handgun permit application process for members of the military, and the department is working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which conducts criminal background checks on all handgun permit applicants, to help with the process.
"We have to make sure that we're doing everything we can to ensure the security of our guardsmen after what happened in Chattanooga," Haslam said. "We're continuing our review to determine the very best long-term security measures, but immediate efforts to reposition soldiers and help them arm themselves are appropriate next steps."
Haslam continues to work with the Tennessee congressional delegation on appropriate solutions at the federal level to secure military buildings. The Tennessee National Guard leadership is also coordinating with both state and federal agencies to assess and implement necessary security measures above and beyond those already in place for all Tennessee National Guard locations.
"We are doing everything within our power to ensure that we maintain a safe working environment for these men and women, but it is imperative that we don't rush our analysis and do something that could possibly cause more problems," Haston said.
Under state law, active members of the military, including those in the National Guard and Reserve, may forgo taking a state handgun training course when applying for a handgun carry permit if they have completed at least four hours of handgun training within the past five years through any branch of the military. Military personnel must present documentation of the handgun training using one of the approved forms issued by the Department of Defense. A list of approved forms may be found at http://tn.gov/safety/article/handgunfaqs.
"We have taken immediate action and established a procedure to accelerate the processing of applications for members of the military, and we plan to use our mobile driver testing units in the coming weeks to make applying for handgun carry permits even simpler," Gibbons said. "The mobile units will travel to areas of the state where members of the military work or serve so they can apply for permits and be fingerprinted for background checks on site."
More information on dates and locations of this special service will be announced soon.
Haslam traveled to Chattanooga on Thursday and Friday in the wake of the shootings that resulted in the tragic deaths of four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor. He has visited with the families of the victims and will continue to work closely with state, local and federal law enforcement officials.