Training helps Indiana National Guard meet executive order

The Indiana National Guard exists to serve state and nation. The Chattanooga, Tennessee, attacks in July have proven that service members are now exposed to increased risk and evolving threats in the workplace.

Gov. Mike Pence, the commander in chief of the Indiana National Guard, and I share a deep concern for the safety and security of our service members and their families. We are taking the necessary steps to implement his Executive Order 15-07 calling for enhanced security at our facilities, which includes authorizing the arming of properly permitted service members.

Immediately upon the issuance of this order, we acknowledged the need to implement the new policy in a swift and deliberate manner _ one that focused on safety.

The National Rifle Association safety training was considered one of many options in order to meet those goals.

Misunderstandings have arisen over some of our service members’ enrollment in the NRA safety training.

Let me set the record straight.

First, the Indiana National Guard has not contracted, nor paid for, NRA services.

Guard members who have not already been trained to use handguns must complete qualified safety courses before taking advantage of the governor’s executive order. The Indiana National Guard is going beyond the requirements of Indiana law in order to maximize safety and security.

This requirement is the responsibility of the individual service members, and they have several options. The National Guard offers such training. So do many law enforcement agencies. In fact, we were fortunate to have police from New Albany train a local unit. Some service members, however, may choose to enroll in qualified private courses such as those offered through the NRA.

Many of our service members are not trained to use military pistols. The reason is that the M4 and M16 rifles are the most commonly issued weapons. Further, many service members trained on pistols are only trained on the Beretta M9. They are not trained in “conceal carry” of any weapon, and standard military weapons training lacks a focus on the safe storage and use of personal weapons.

The confidence, repetition and comfort a person acquires through a weapons handling safety course lessens the likelihood of accidents. In addition, qualified training courses ensure the weapon carrier gains a better understanding of a defense posture and the potential consequences when and if one is compelled to fire.

I never envisioned the NRA or any similar organization providing training free of charge. Additionally, the Indiana National Guard does not intend to contract any outside organization for these services. The NRA’s offer to provide weapons safety training has been made to the individual service members and not to the Indiana National Guard or the United States Army. Service members who wish to accept the NRA’s offer do so on their own behalf.

At this time, no Indiana National Guard personnel have fully completed the training with the NRA. However, we continue to encourage our service members to complete this or any other approved training course if they wish to carry a handgun in uniform.

Approximately 175 personnel have been trained by the Indiana National Guard and are approved to carry a concealed firearm.

In conclusion, we require service members to receive handgun training to prevent a catastrophic event from occurring in the workplace or at home. Safety of our Indiana National Guard families is my most important concern. We fully recognize and are thankful for the NRA’s expertise in handgun safety and the merits of all other organizations that are helping us achieve this goal.

Maj. Gen. Courtney P. “Corey” Carr is adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard and a former president of the Columbus Economic Development Board.