The Guardsmen deployed to the Capitol will also carry a protective helmet, gas masks and Kevlar body armor, she said.
She stressed that Guard members are trained to “try everything to de-escalate a situation before having to draw their weapon and use it” as part of civil disturbance response.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy approved the request by federal and local authorities for armed Guardsmen to support law enforcement protecting the Capitol earlier on Tuesday, Johnson said.
Defense officials and civil authorities have been weighing whether to arm up to 15,000 Guardsmen from across the country that are expected to deploy to Washington to respond to violent protests ahead of the inauguration.
Ahead of Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser deliberately sought to limit the military’s role in the city’s response to planned protests. She requested the Guardsmen deployed to the scene be unarmed.
But that calculus changed in recent days as law enforcement received credible threats of armed militias planning to move on the Capitol in the days leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration, particularly if the House votes to impeach Trump for a second time Wednesday.
“We want our individuals to have the right to self-defense,” Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters Monday ahead of the decision. “If senior leadership determines that that’s the right posture to be in, then that is something we will do.”