NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR – “This is our new reality,” says Lt. Col. Joel Lynch with the Arkansas National Guard.
All nine of Arkansas’ National Guard recruiting centers closed their doors Monday as part of an executive order by Governor Asa Hutchinson aimed to protect military personnel.
“It’s really no secret, in Little Rock it happened here several years ago, happened in Chattanooga and you never know where it’s going to happen next,” Lynch adds.
Lynch says the recruiters are now based at armories across the state.
“They’re still going to recruit, go out and visit people, their job is not going to change, just where they’re doing it from,” Lynch explains.
The order comes after Hutchinson announced Friday that all full-time military personnel will now be armed. That applies to Camp Robinson, Ft. Chaffee, Ebbing Air National Guard Field and 62 readiness centers across the state, like the Raymond W Fisher Armory in North Little Rock.
“It can happen any day, anywhere, any time, any place,” says Heather Blake-Stovall, director of Mama Myrtles Early Headstart.
Blake-Stovall runs a daycare just across the street from the Fisher Armory and says arming personnel puts her more at ease during business hours.
“Would you rather just be a sitting duck. ‘Hey I’m here but I can’t do anything,’ or be able to protect yourself and protect everybody around you?” Blake-Stovall asks.
“For the most part you’re not going to see any change in the way the guard does business,” says Lynch.
Lynch says while Guard members are gone from recruiting centers, they’ll return armed and trained with weapons.
“This is the way we are doing business for the foreseeable future,” he adds.