GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After a short stint of being closed, the National Guard recruiting offices in Mississippi have reopened. This time, things are a little different. The recruiters are carrying an extra piece of equipment.
"We're kind of having a grand reopening," said Lieutenant Colonel Rodney Harris.
After being closed for about a week, National Guardsmen have resumed their posts at recruitment centers across the state.
"We took a step back after the incident in Chattanooga and looked at what our security looked like," said Harris.
That security assessment led to a decision. Governor Phil Bryant issued an order that allows guardsmen to be equipped with a firearm while on the job. According to Harris, the holstered guns will serve multiple purposes.
"The purpose that we hope it serves is that it serves as a deterrent to an individual that may have the mindset to do something that tampers with our security measures," he said.
But if an individual is not deterred by the sight of the weapon, that's when the second purpose kicks in.
"Of course, we are the armed forces, so we're accustomed to being in a position by which we have the opportunity to return fire," said Harris.
According to Harris, the addition of the guns isn't the only security measure that will be changing at the 10 offices statewide. He says there may be some adjustments to the storefront glass, visibility, and general access.
Veterans, like Chris Overfield, are happy to see the offices open back up so quickly.
"I think we need to show people we're not scared to go about our daily lives," said Overfield.
He thinks that reopening these offices does just that by showing our enemies that we're still carrying on fighting for the freedoms that we stand for. The Guardsmen were specially trained sometime over the past week to ready themselves for this new responsibility.