Citizens guarding Army Recruiting Center in Gallatin,TN until law is passed to allow recruitment centers to be armed. pic.twitter.com/DGNwOaNGZ2— Gisela Margarita (@GiselaPerezTV) July 21, 2015
In the wake of devastating shooting spree that killed four Marines and one Navy sailor in Tennessee, groups of heavily armed citizens have taken it upon themselves to protect recruiters in Military Recruitment Centers all across the United States.
Since a 1992 Pentagon directive prohibits anyone other than military police or law enforcement to carry weapons on federal property (including recruitment centers), when Mohammad Abdul Azeez peppered the Naval Recruiting Reserve Center from his convertible Mustang that fateful day, recruiters had no way of firing back and defending themselves.
Governors in several states — including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin — have ordered the arming of state National Guard recruiters.
In addition to that, the Department of Defense has also issued a new directive to increase surveillance and implement other measures to boost security at recruitment facilities. However, some citizens are still concerned about the safety of such facilities.
In states such as Ohio, where carrying a firearm is legal, gun-toting volunteers have parked themselves outside recruitment centers.
“We’re here to serve and protect,” said Clint Janney, a civilian standing near a recruiting center in Columbus. “What the government won’t do, we will do.”
Although these activists aim to protect the recruiters and prevent any more bloody incidents from occurring, some people are really not comfortable with them.
In fact, employees and customers of a medical supply center adjacent to the Columbus recruiting center believe the citizen guards to be “unsettling” and think that they pose “a different kind of threat.”
“They could just go crazy with the shooting,” explained Kimm McLaughlin. “You just don’t know their state of mind.”
Needless to say, it’s a valid point.
This new situation has also raised some serious concerns for Pentagon, which has warned its recruiters to treat the gun-toting civilians as a security threat.
“Soldiers should avoid anyone standing outside the recruiting centers attempting to offer protection and report them to local law enforcement and the command if they feel threatened,” read a U.S. Army Recruiting Command policy letter.
Gun owners have stationed themselves outside recruitment centers across several states, including Washington, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, Michigan, Arizona, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Ohio’s Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott claims these volunteers – some of whom belong to private militia –are not violating any laws by hanging outside of the recruiting centers with their guns.
"While we greatly appreciate the support of the American public during this tragedy, we ask that citizens do not stand guard at our recruiting offices. Our continued public trust lies among our trained first responders for the safety of the communities where we live and work," stated Marine Corps.
Now, even though these gun-toting civilians have best interest at hearts, most of them don’t have any special training required to tackle any serious situation. In addition to that, having citizens march around with their weapons could lead to all sorts of disturbances – not to mention, a bigger security threat to the very facilities they are trying to guard.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Recruiting Command doesn’t have an official position on the armed citizens, according to spokesman Brian Lepley.