COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Would it surprise you to learn that until just a few weeks ago, National Guard members could not carry concealed weapons at armories across the state? It surprised me.
Until last year, South Carolina Guardsmen weren't permitted to carry concealed guns unless they were deployed to combat zones.
That changed after five service members were killed by a terrorist in 2015 at two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Following those horrific acts, Congress asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter to come up with a plan that would give state leaders and installation commanders the ability to allow service members to carry personal sidearms while on duty.
Last summer, Governor Nikki Haley signed an order calling for qualified Guard members to be trained and armed.
South Carolina Adjutant General Bob Livingston cautiously supports the idea. "It's a sad commentary on our world that we are having to arm our facilities throughout the United States," Livingston said. "It is a balancing act between that very strong bond with the community and being prepared to deal with a bad actor that comes through that community."
Since October, about 200 Guard members have received instruction that mirrors police training from SLED.
"For our duty officers to step in and provide that immediate response to slow down or deter or defeat the attacker," Livingston said.
Anonymous soldiers now have concealed weapons at all 68 Guard facilities.
"So we are not going to talk about exactly how we have people armed or who is armed and when they're armed," Livingston said. "We just want people to know that we're armed. And we have the capability of defending ourselves and those around us."
Military bases are under threat every day. Sometimes local law enforcement cannot get there quickly enough. Why not allow the people who work there to be armed?
I applaud the government's decision to allow those who protect us to protect themselves.
That's my take, what's yours?