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Ortt introduces legislation to allow military recruiters & ROTC members to carry firearms; strengthen security measures at centers

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Tue, Jan 31st 2017 08:20 pm

Bills would implement better safety measures & arm soldiers at National Guard Recruiting Centers & ROTC units in the event of a terrorist attack

Senate Majority Task Force on Counterterrorism and Public Protection member New York State Sen. Rob Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda) introduced a pair of bills on Tuesday that would better protect members of the New York National Guard and ROTC from active shooter situations or domestic acts of terrorism.

Ortt's bill (S2921) is mirrored after federal legislation that took effect late last year. Ortt's bill would allow military personnel at National Guard Recruiting Centers and ROTC units to carry firearms while on duty. In a separate piece of legislation (S2920), policies would be established to improve the security and protection of recruiting centers and ROTC units across the state.

Ortt, combat veteran of the New York Army National Guard, said, "Our New York National Guard and ROTC personnel are a key piece of our United States Armed Forces. We need to recognize that, in this day and age, they are terrorist targets on our home soil. This legislation will bring New York in line with federal policy and ultimately go a long way in protecting our service members."

Batavia Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, "Domestic terrorist attacks have skyrocketed in recent years, and military bases and centers have become frequent targets. No matter the military branch in which they serve, it is paramount to provide the utmost protections to our dedicated servicemen and women. As a veteran, I know the dangers our members of the military face, and this legislation will allow them to defend themselves in the event of an attack. I am proud to support Sen. Ortt's efforts and sponsor same-as legislation in the house to help New York get up to speed with federal legislation that is already in place."

In November of 2016, due to a number of active-shooter attacks on military bases nationwide, the Department of Defense issued federal policy authorizing U.S. military personnel to carry firearms on base. Prior to the DOD directive, members of the U.S. Armed Forces and DOD personnel were not allowed to carry personal firearms on military installations.

The new federal policy, however, does not apply to a state's National Guard, which is a division of Military and Naval Affairs. The decision as to whether to arm state Guard personnel is at the discretion of governors and state adjutants generals. Currently, military recruitment center employees are unarmed. Ortt's bill would change that.

Ortt's other bill (S2920) would implement stronger defense policies at National Guard recruiting centers and ROTC units. The legislation would make necessary changes to recruiting centers and ROTC units to better protect and defend employees, recruits, visitors and other individuals against any acts of violence or terrorism.

Building security at recruiting centers and ROTC units would be strengthened by installing metal detectors, bulletproof glass, video surveillance equipment and barricades. Changes would also include relocating recruiting or training centers to armories or other secure locations.

Ortt first introduced this bill in the summer of 2015 shortly after five service members were shot and killed at a military recruitment station and naval training center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The legislation passed the Senate in June of 2016.

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