Armed men have taken up self-appointed sentry duty outside military recruitment centers after another armed man opened fire on a recruiting center and killed five in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week.
The military has asked they not do so.
There is “always some concern about safety for our soldiers and civilians when someone is walking around with weapons,” an unnamed official told local WFLA.
Militiamen in at least five states — Texas, Georgia, West Virginia, Ohio and Iowa — are patrolling recruiting centers, citing the shooting spree by 24-year-old Mohammod Abdulazeez on Thursday that killed five service members. Abdulazeez was also killed in the attack.
But Jerry Pleasant, commander of a Texas militia group, said he doesn’t have any plans to back off despite what military officials said.
“We will continue, until we feel perhaps the threat is gone,” Pleasant told KLTV. “They’re always brothers in arms. Once you take that oath to the constitution to protect it against all enemies foreign and domestic. That never goes away. That does not expire until you expire.”
In Iowa, some militiamen are hiding, ready to spring out in case of an attack, Kim Paulsen told local WHOTV.
“Since our government won’t allow us, or them to carry to protect themselves here on American soil. I have the ability. I have the right. And that’s why I’m here,” Paulsen said. “I mean, just give them the opportunity to carry their own weapons then, if you don’t want to let them have issued weapons. Or you’re worried about the liability. These guys have been trained.”
Michael LeRose startled service members when he began his patrol outside a Marine recruiting center in West Virginia with an M-4 and a handgun, reports WCHSTV. Police questioned him after being dispatched by emergency services, but LeRose was allowed to continue because it was determined what he was doing was legal, the station reports.
“If our soldiers can die for us, we can die for our soldiers,” he told the station. “Without our second amendment we’re naked. We’re completely and utterly stripped of any way to protect ourselves.”
Larry Fitzpatrick sat outside a military recruiting center in Ohio with a .22-caliber rifle and a pistol strapped to his calf, keeping watch while seated in the baking sun in a folding chair, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
“I can’t see why any red-blooded American wouldn’t want to be out here,” Fitzpatrick, a member of a local militia, told the paper. “Our troops go overseas and fight to protect us and then they can come home and get butchered on our U.S. soil? That’s unacceptable. So until these places get their own protection, I’ll be it for them.”
According to the Washington Post, police recovered what may have been a privately-owned gun belonging to one of the deceased Chattanooga military members at the scene. Some lawmakers have discussed lifting bans on service members being armed at domestic military bases.