WASHINGTON - Members of Congress have expressed emotional reactions to Thursday's shooting at two military facilities in the southern city of Chattanooga, Tennessee that left four U.S. Marines dead an one U.S. sailor wounded.
A number of lawmakers, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Minority leader Nancy Pelosi say that no U.S. servicemember should ever have to face violence on U.S. soil.
Many lawmakers offered their prayers and condolences to the victims' families and to survivors of the attacks.
McCaul: 'ISIS-inspired attack'
House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul held a news conference during a previously scheduled visit to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
McCaul told reporters the investigation is still ongoing, but he said, based on his judgment, the Chattanooga murders were inspired by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. McCaul said terrorists based in Syria send out directives through social media to people in the United States, calling on them to attack U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials.
McCaul said there are are investigations into Islamic State-related incidents going on in all 50 U.S. states, and that the terrorist ideology is "permeating society."
McCaul said the United States needs to do more to counter the terrorist message. He is sponsoring legislation in Congress to create a new federal agency to counter violent extremism on U.S. soil.
McCain: military personnel need protection
Republican Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain said the attack is "a heartbreaking reminder that our men and women in uniform can be targets here at home, as they often are abroad."
He added, "Long before the Chattanooga attack, we had been working to clarify a post commander’s authority to allow carrying of personal firearms."
McCain said U.S. servicemembers in the United States should be able to carry a gun to defend themselves, and that he will work to make that happen. Other Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates said that guns should be allowed in military recruitment centers.
Army Chief of Staff Gerneral Ray Odierno told reporters Friday that the Army is reviewing security at military recruiting centers. He said it was too soon to say whether the facilities need security guards or other protection, and he warned that arming troops in those offices could cause more problems than it might solve.