Armed Citizens Turn Up to Guard Recruiting Centers

After Chattanooga shootings, residents say they want to 'serve and protect'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2015 9:14 AM CDT
Armed Citizens Turn Up to Guard Recruiting Centers
In this photo taken Monday, a man who would only give his name as JR from Norfolk, Va., stands with his sidearm outside the front door of the Armed Forces Career Center in Huntsville, Ala.   (Eric Schultz/ via AP)

Wisconsin and six other states moved to arm National Guard members on duty after last week's Chattanooga shootings; now armed citizens are heading out to add an extra layer of protection. Reports of these self-appointed sentinels—some of them from private militia—have filtered in from Ohio, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Tennessee, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Virginia, the AP and the Trace report. "What the government won't do, we will do," a member of Ohio's branch of the "3 Percent Irregulars" militia said yesterday, sporting a Taurus 9mm handgun while he kept an eye on a recruiting center in Columbus. The AP notes that in Ohio and many other states, it's legal to openly carry a handgun or rifle; in the case of that Columbus location, the local county sheriff says as long as the owner of the plaza doesn't object, the men can stay put in the lawn chairs they've set up there.

For some, it's even more personal than simply fulfilling citizen duties: One Navy vet guarding a recruiting center in Madison, Wis., told WKOW that his son was a recruiter inside that center. But not everyone's thrilled these DIY defenders are taking matters into their own hands. "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," a Marine Corps public affairs officer says in an emailed statement to the AP. A customer coming out of a store next door to the Columbus recruiting center tells the news agency that the volunteers "could just go crazy with the shooting. You just don't know their state of mind." (Read more National Guard stories.)

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