A bill to codify the right of uniformed Michigan National Guard personnel to carry a concealed weapon on state military posts and in recruiting offices accessible to the public passed the state Senate on Thursday by a vote of 34-to-4 and is on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign the legislation.
House Bill 4474, the bipartisan legislation introduced by former Guardsman and Associate Speaker Pro Tem Gary Glenn, R-Midland, had passed the state House of Representatives 103-to-5 in June 2017 after a representative for Adjutant General Gregory Vadnais, director of the state Military and Veterans Affairs Division appointed by Snyder, testified in favor of it. Mark Sutton of the Michigan Division of the American Legion and other veterans organizations also supported the bill.
Glenn introduced the legislation — with most fellow members of the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee of both parties as cosponsors — in response to the Islamic terrorism attack in 2015 on two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in which Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot and killed four unarmed U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor.
“Our military service men and women place themselves at higher risk of being targeted for terrorist attack just by putting on that uniform, sadly here at home as well as abroad, as we tragically learned in Chattanooga and before that, at Fort Hood,” Glenn said. “Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have a God-given right to defend themselves while training to defend us, and past, present, or future policies that would deny them that right are unconscionable and without honor.”
Glenn pointed to the Pentagon’s policy under former President Barack Obama, which prohibited military personnel from carrying personal weapons to defend themselves and their families at military installations, a policy spotlighted by another Islamic terror-motivated mass shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas, in 2009, when former Army Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others.
President Trump has moved to change that policy for military personnel on military installations under federal jurisdiction.
But Glenn said the welcome change in Pentagon policy would not apply to the approximately 400 full-time National Guard personnel at forty-some training and recruiting facilities under the jurisdiction of the state and of the Michigan National Guard.
His legislation gives the force of law to existing Guard policy under Adj. Gen. Vadnais allowing uniformed personnel and civilians with a state Concealed Pistol License to carry a concealed personal weapon while at those facilities, which if signed by Gov. Snyder would prevent a future governor or adjutant general from arbitrarily revoking that right without legislative approval. Under the legislation, military commanders will remain free under emergency circumstances to block civilians from carrying concealed weapons at military facilities by simply blocking civilian access to such facilities altogether.
Glenn, who served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Army National Guard, including with the 1460th Transportation Co. headquartered in Midland, credited Michigan National Guard Legion of Merit recipient SSG Ronnie Cyrus, formerly of Midland, with helping craft the legislation. Cyrus served 23 years with the Michigan Army National Guard and is now the Veterans Transition Assistance Advisor for the State of Michigan and executive board member for the Michigan Heroes Museum in Frankenmuth.