After Tennessee shootings, armed citizens guard recruiters
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gun-toting citizens are showing up at military recruiting centers around the country, saying they plan to protect recruiters following last week’s killing of four Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The citizens, some of them private militia members, said they’re supporting the recruiters, who by military directive are not armed.
“We’re here to serve and protect,” Clint Janney said Tuesday, wearing a Taurus 9mm handgun as he stood in a parking lot across from a recruiting center on the west side of Columbus. “What the government won’t do, we will do.”
Similar posts have been set up outside recruitment centers in several cities around the country, including Madison, Wisconsin; Hiram, Georgia; Phoenix; and several sites in Tennessee, including Murfreesboro.
There’s no evidence that such centers are in danger, and the government isn’t changing how they’re staffed, although some governors have temporarily moved National Guard recruiting centers to armories and several have authorized Guard personnel to carry weapons at state facilities.
Janney, 38, who runs his own garage door company, is a member of the Ohio branch of the “3 Percent Irregulars” militia. He was joined by four other members of the militia, some of whom arrived Tuesday and others who’d been there since Friday. In Ohio and many states, it is legal to carry an openly displayed handgun or rifle.
The men sat in lawn chairs, occasionally dipping into a cooler for bottles of water, or stood around talking. Some people came by to thank them; others didn’t seem aware of their presence in the large plaza.
Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott said that as long as the owner of the plaza didn’t ask them to leave, the men were not violating any laws. Scott has instructed deputies to check on recruiting centers, but not the volunteer guards.
Employees of a medical supply center next door to the recruiting center said they understood the volunteers’ intentions but weren’t thrilled about their presence. Customers leaving the store said they appreciated the volunteers but thought professional security guards would be better.
“They could just go crazy with the shooting. You just don’t know their state of mind,” said Kimm McLaughlin, 44, of nearby Grove City.
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