Since the horrific terrorist shooting at a Marine recruiting center in Chattanooga last week that killed five service members, citizens have been standing guard outside recruiting centers all over the country.
Last Friday, we told you about a man in Winchester, Virginia who started standing guard outside the military recruitment center the day after the attack in Tennessee. At the time, he asked us not to use his name, but the reaction to his actions has been so powerful that we can give you his name now -- Rick Hewitt.
But according to Stars and Stripes, the Army has put out a new directive to their recruiters to treat these armed citizens as a security threat.
Another group of men standing guard at a different recruiting center in Virginia say the Army’s order is an insult to them.
After the terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Erin Quinlan used Facebook to get his friends stand guard outside a military recruiting center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. They are citizens who have taken up arms to protect the unarmed military.
Quinlan heard about the Army's order on Thursday.
“I was very disappointed when I read that,” said Quinlan. “It almost made me feel like I was put into another class, like I was grouped in the terrorist class.”
Jim Deering served in the Navy in Vietnam.
“I am a veteran and I’m hearing that we're supposed to be treated as though we are a threat as a terrorist, he said. “I’m not a terrorist. I’m an American citizen.”
“If the government doesn't want us standing on the street with our weapons on our sides, our firearms on our sides, then change the policy so these guys can protect themselves and we will not have to stand out here to protect them,” said Mark Boutchyard.
The military has been so supportive of these guys standing guard outside their building. However, we are not able to show you that on video because the Navy and the Marines said they are not even allowed to exit as long as the media is out here. The Army is allowed to come out, but they just can't talk to the cameras.
On Thursday, the Army sent us this statement:
"Security at the Army's stand-alone facilities across the country is the responsibility of law enforcement officials, the FBI, and the Army.
“We appreciate the spirit and support of our communities, but armed civilians unassociated with law enforcement officials may complicate or compromise security efforts."
While military leadership might not like the civilian help, the recruiters on the ground here are grateful for the support.
“They're ecstatic,” said Quinlan. “They're jumping for joy that we're actually here. They came out Monday. They gave us water bottles because it was very hot out. They shook our hands and took our pictures.”
And public support has been overwhelming.
But these guys don’t want gratitude. They want the military to be allowed to carry guns on duty.
“If they want to change the policy and arm our military folks, then I'll go home,” Quinlan said. “I will go home once that policy is made. But until then, we will continue to stand out here and make sure they have the protection that they need.”
Since these guys said they are going to stay here until the military changes the policy about guns inside recruiting centers, they are going to need to some help. They have said anybody with a sidearm and some extra time can come on down to the Fredericksburg recruiting center.