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News / Clark County News

Wilson: Let Washington National Guard carry weapons

She leads effort by Clark County's GOP state lawmakers to alter rule

By Lauren Dake, Columbian Political Writer
Published: July 28, 2015, 5:00pm

State lawmakers from Clark County are urging Gov. Jay Inslee to allow members of the Washington National Guard to carry firearms.

The letter to the Democratic governor, signed by the region’s Republican delegation and other state lawmakers, comes after a gunman killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor at a military recruiting station in Tennessee.

Rep. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, spearheaded the effort and wrote that it’s time to “arm service members at facilities” and allow them “the right to protect themselves from peril” just like “any other free man or woman as allowed by law and constitutionally protected natural rights.”

Wilson, a gun-rights activist, wrote in the letter that “gun-free zones — our own military bases — are clearly the target of evil forces intent on killing and maiming the very individuals who risk their lives for the protection and safety of everyone else.”

Wilson was out of cellphone range on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman with the Washington National Guard, said the Guard is taking steps to enhance security efforts.

“Our position at this point is it’s not necessary,” Shagren said of arming Guard personnel. “Again, we’ve taken alternative measures to enhance security.”

The Washington National Guard has recruiters in 34 facilities in the state, nine of which are storefront locations, such as in shopping centers.

Wilson cites a 1992 directive issued under President George H.W. Bush’s tenure as the reason why Guard members aren’t armed. The purpose of the directive was to “limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD (Department of Defense) military and civilian personnel” unless there is a “reasonable expectation that life and DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried,” Wilson wrote.

A handful of Republican governors have authorized Guard personnel to carry weapons. Those include the governors of Texas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, according to the Associated Press.

Inslee declined to address the letter.

The Washington state lawmakers who signed the letter include Sens. Don Benton, R-Vancouver; Ann Rivers, R-La Center; Reps. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver; Brandon Vick, R-Felida; and Liz Pike, R-Camas.

“We need to let people who are trained have a gun,” Harris said. “They are highly trained. They are capable.”

Columbian Political Writer