A gunman armed with a semi-automatic civilian rifle triggered a grim death toll two years ago when he burst into a Navy complex in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines and a sailor.
But witnesses say the July 16 attack could have been worse had it not been for Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White, the top officer at the Navy Operational Support Center.
He shot back at gunman Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who was later killed by police. News reports stated that White could have actually faced criminal charges because non-security service members were not allowed to have weapons on duty unless they were in a combat zone.
But White’s response was widely praised; no charges came.
“It allowed us a little time,” said Sgt. Jeff Cantu, a survivor. “Marines took that time to evacuate as best they could.”
Fast-forward to last week when Adam Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and candidate for governor, announced that since July 2015, more than 82,000 concealed carry applications were “expedited” for veterans and active military members.
Putnam’s agency administers the permit system and now there are about 1.8 million concealed carry license holders in Florida, he said.
Putnam, a Republican and a former member of Congress, said he fast-tracked these military carry applications “in the wake of terrorist attacks against military personnel in Chattanooga.”
“The men and women who serve and have served our country deserve all of the support we can provide,” Putnam said at a Tallahassee news conference, joined by members of the Florida National Guard.
“If they carried a gun for us in Iraq or Afghanistan, they should be allowed to carry one at home,” Putnam said on social media. “I want to make Florida a place where our Second Amendment rights are not stifled, but encouraged.”
Vets, guns, and active-duty military are among key planks in Putnam’s bid to be Florida’s next governor. During the press conference, Putnam pledged to fight for open carry and to allow law-abiding citizens to carry on campus.
Anti-gun forces have claimed that open carry, guns on campus, and guns at airports, were soundly defeated in the recent session of the Florida Legislature. However, pro-gun groups counter that by saying those measures simply did not make it through the legislative process, and they’ll likely appear again.
Meanwhile, Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to run for governor assailed Putnam’s pro-gun platforms, according to this Tampa Bay Times article. — By Bill Miller, Contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield