MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Top Minnesota Republicans lawmakers on Monday called on Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to issue an executive order allowing active Minnesota military members to carry weapons in public.
That proposal comes in the wake of a mass shooting in Chattanooga this month at a military recruiting station that killed five military recruiters.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: After Chilly Start, Temps Will Climb Wednesday
“Today, they are a target,” said state Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, who represents Minnesota’s largest National Guard training facility at Camp Ripley.
“They are a target with no means to respond,” he said. “So we want to make sure that if someone is going to attack them simply because they are an American wearing a uniform that represents America, they should have the right to defend themselves.”
Gazelka will introduce a bill to allow active service members to carry a weapon without a permit — in uniform or out.
Minnesota law requires legal gun owners to submit to a background check and take a training class before getting a permit to carry in public.
National Guard members undergo fingerprinting and an FBI background check before getting access to a weapon.
But gun safety advocates say soldiers should not be exempt from civilian permit requirements.READ MORE: Edwards Sparks Wolves' Rally In 109-107 Win Over Trail Blazers
“They should be able to get permits to carry,” said Heather Martens, of the gun-safety group Protect Minnesota, “but they should have to pass a background check to show they are not subject to a domestic violence restraining order and they are not prohibited from owning a gun for another reason, like mental illness.”
At least seven state governors have issued executive orders since Chattanooga.
They give certain military members the right to carry weapons at recruiting offices or speed up permit requests. There’s also a move to beef up security at offices in many states.
Dayton has said he does not intend to issue a similar executive order.
“I am in regular contact with General Richard Nash, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, and am relying upon his judgement on the appropriate measures to best protect the men and women of the Minnesota National Guard,” Dayton said in a statement.
Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, said the guard reviewed security procedures at all of its facilities in May, and does not disclose what enhanced security measures it has taken.MORE NEWS: Enjoying The Weather Extremes Of Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
“Armed security officers are permanently stationed at the air bases in Duluth and Minneapolis,” Olson said. “At this time, our force protection measures will not include arming soldiers and airmen whose regular duties are not security-related.”