Army to Armed Vigilantes: We Don’t Need You; Go Home

Two guys are standing outside the Army recruiting office in Sioux Falls with guns. These vigilantes are responding to an unestablished threat and using guns to promote their preferred policy change:

Twenty-three-year-old Zachary Gallegos and 26-year-old Landon Nohava were among those that have begun stationing themselves outside the Armed Forces Recruiting Center. Both men carried handguns Thursday morning in front of the recruiting center in a Sioux Falls strip mall.

…Both Gallegos and Nohava said they hope state and federal authorities would move to add protections for recruiting offices.

“I plan on coming out as much as possible until it changes,” said Nohava, an army veteran from Chancellor who had a concealed handgun. “Because honestly, it’s pathetic” [Kevin Burbach, “Armed Civilians Stand Guard Outside SD Recruiting Center,” AP via Deseret News, 2015.07.22].

Novaha’s “it” that he finds “pathetic” is apparently the very sensible Posse Comitatus Act of 1878:

While arming recruiters might seem correct, it’s just not the American way. The Posse Comitatus Act signed in 1878 by Rutherford B. Hayes was specifically enacted to “limit the powers of the federal government in using its military personnel to act as domestic law enforcement personnel” — in other words, to prevent a militarized police state [Linda Stasi, “Arming Troops at Military Recruiting Centers Isn’t Just an Overreaction — It May Be Downright Dangerous,” New York Daily News, 2015.0718].

(Gee, what happened to all the Jade Helm paranoia?)

Dustin Lau, who brought his gun to the Sioux Falls recruiting center on Wednesday, says the Army needs guys like him:

For Lau and Gallegos they have no plans to leave outside the building until the government decides to bring in authorized personnel.

“We’re out here until they can get the security that they need,” added Lau [Ricky Cody, “Civilians Stand Guard at Armed Forces Center,” KDLT-TV, 2015.07.22].

The Army doesn’t think vigilantes are the security they need; the military thinks that guns at domestic military facilities create more risk than they avert:

Military officials said security at recruiting and reserve centers will be reviewed, but the Army’s top officer said it’s too early to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other increased protection.

“I think we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves, and I’m not talking about where you end up attacking each other,” Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters. Instead, he said, it’s more about “accidental discharges and everything else that goes along with having weapons that are loaded that causes injuries.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter late Friday asked the military services to determine if additional steps can be taken to ensure people are safe at military installations, and said he wants a report back by the end of next week.

The comments came as Navy officials confirmed a separate incident outside Atlanta, where a recruiter accidently shot himself in the leg with his personal .45-caliber pistol while discussing the Tennessee shootings with one of his recruits. Officials said he showed the sailor the unloaded gun, then reloaded it and inadvertently discharged it as he was putting it back in his holster [Lolita C. Baldor, “Chattanooga Shootings Leave Questions Unanswered,” AP via U.S. News and World Report, 2015.07.17].

Worsening the security situation in Sioux Falls is that the vigilantes “aren’t coordinating their efforts with any military branch.” I would think that a key part of securing a perimeter would be coordinating with everybody within the perimeter.

If Gallegos and Nohava really respected the military, they’d take their peashooters home. The Army sees civilians standing around outside their offices with guns as a threat to, not a promise of, security:

The Army has warned its recruiters to treat the gun-toting civilians gathering at centers across the country in the wake of the  Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting 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, according to a U.S. Army Recruiting Command policy letter issued Monday [Travis J. Tritten, “Army to Recruiters: Treat Armed Citizens as Security Threat,” Stars and Stripes, 2015.07.22].

The Army tells its recruiters to do what I’d do if someone were loitering in front of my house with a firearm: call the cops!

“I’m sure the citizens mean well, but we cannot assume this in every case and we do not want to advocate this behavior,” according to the Army Command Operations Center-Security Division letter, which was authenticated by the service.

Recruiters were ordered not to interact or acknowledge the armed civilians, who have been greeted by a mix of concern, indifference and gratitude by the public.

“If questioned by these alleged concerned citizens, be polite, professional and terminate the conversation immediately and report the incident to local law enforcement …,” the command advised.

As the incidents crop up around the country, police could be asked to confront the civilians with guns on the Army’s behalf.

“Ensure your recruiters clearly articulate to local police the civilian may be armed and in possession of a conceal/carry permit,” it told the centers.

The command said recruiters should also immediately fill out an Army security report [Tritten, 2015.07.22].

When South Dakota legislators used the Sandy Hook school shooting as a pretext for its school gunslinger law, I argued that turning schools into armed fortresses makes no one safer. School boards appear to agree with me, as none have used the law to place gunslingers in the classroom.

Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno also agrees that guns at recruiting stations harm the Army’s mission:

Should troops manning military recruiting centers be armed? Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno doesn’t think so. He told reporters one day after the Chattanooga slaughter that doing so may actually cause more problems than we already have.

…Gen. Odierno even warned, “I think we have to be careful about over-arming ourselves,” and told The Military Times, “We can’t have places where we recruit young men and women that look like a fortress. We have to have a connection to the American people” [Stasi, 2015.07.18].

This vigilante movement, stirred by the Oath Keepers, is a dangerous mix of ammosexualism and Islamophobia. These gun nuts didn’t come out to federal buildings in 1995 to protect federal employees from the next Timothy McVeigh. They didn’t come to the Silver Dollar in Aberdeen after a man was killed on the sidewalk last May. They aren’t lining up to protect black citizens in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Waller County, Texas from unjust detention and death. They are doped up on the hype that the biggest threat to America is dudes who don’t look or pray like us, so hot damn! let’s load up and get us a chance to shoot us some Muslims!

The Army doesn’t need Gooney McBuckshot to protect its recruiting centers. Vigilantes, you are the danger. Go home.

Related Listening: NPR’s Morning Edition discusses mass killing in America: 284 incidents, just about 1,400 people who have died since 2006, about 70% involving firearms.

21 Responses to Army to Armed Vigilantes: We Don’t Need You; Go Home

  1. Nick Nemec

    If Dustin Lau really thinks the Army needs him he should go on in and put his name on the dotted line. It is a recruiting station after all.

  2. Jeff Barth

    Having been in the Army and served on guard duty it will be interesting how many of the fellas are still out there next week, next month or on Christmas Eve in the rain/snow.

    Also, who is protecting our service people from these “guards”?
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  3. If our military needs civilians to protect it this country is in big, big trouble. Go back to the military surplus store, guys. There are survivalist rations and used boots to sell.

  4. Don’t these dudes have regular jobs? Where is that work ethic that SD prides itself on? I would agree with the Army spokesman that they are a nuisance.

  5. Douglas Wiken

    Four guys die sitting at their desks and politics goes wild. Since then, probably 150 people going to work, hauling their kids to games, getting groceries, driving to see grandpa and grandma, heading off to visit grandchildren, or just out looking at the world have been killed by drunken drivers. Where are the flags flying at half mast for those people? Where is the breathless, maudlin TV coverage?

    Put the armed guards at the front doors of bars, casinos, etc. and prevent the drunks from getting into their cars.

  6. Good deal, the first drive by shots nail these bozo heads. That would solve a lot of our problems with the over kill on too many damn guns in idiots hands. The guy down in Tenn. pulled up to the recruiting store and opened fire outside the building. Ole mac and mire here, would be worm food in short order.

  7. What could go wrong?

    Civilian guards ordered to leave shopping center after one accidentally fires rifle

    By Mary Beth Lane The Columbus Dispatch • Friday July 24, 2015 5:39 AM

    LANCASTER, Ohio — The armed civilians who have been guarding a military recruitment center here are gone, ordered off the property after one of them accidentally discharged his rifle on Thursday.

  8. Roger Elgersma

    The army does not need to get into a situation where their recruiters are being accused of filling quotas of recruits by gunpoint. We also need soilders who are stable minded and are not attracted to the guns make the difference mentality or we will commit more war crimes. Since we have not had a problem with security at these offices it is not necessary to fix something that is not broken.

  9. Roger Cornelius

    Where were these gunslingers last night when another mass killing in a theater took place? Are they now going to provide “security” at all movie theaters?
    There are so many things that could go wrong and so many things that have already gone wrong with this scenario.
    What happens when, like Cory says, someone of a different color goes to a recruiting station for information or to enlist?
    Have these vigilantes had mental health evaluations, gun permits, extended background checks, etc.?
    These people are a threat to our public health and the respective law enforcement agencies need to remove them immediately.

  10. mike from iowa

    Fridays are good days for cartoons-Pretty well sums it up.

  11. If these guys (and maybe some gals) are such good “soldiers” and “oath-keepers”, they should respect the wishes of military commanders who kindly request that they are not needed or wanted.

  12. The good news for these “protectors” is that when the republicans and some dumb ass democrats kill the Iran deal, we can expect about 8 million of our young men and women to be drafted to go fight in the sifting sands of the mid east, so they will now be marching and taking orders from a black D.I. Iran ain’t no Iraq boys and girls, they will fight tooth and nail. Remember the IED’s that were so successful deployed against our troops in Iraq? Guess who made them and guess who stopped using them at our request. Don’t think they will stop again if it gets hot there.

  13. Roger, what would happen if some of our Muslim citizens decided to show their solidarity and came to stand in front of the recruiting stations with their rifles and turbans right next to these other vigilantes, who have been advised by the Oath Keepers to maintain “A courteous and professional disposition to all except Islamic jihadists“?

  14. Jerry, let’s hope Congress shows more sense than that. We don’t need to go to war with Iran any more than these gunslingers need to pretend to be going to war in front of the recruiting offices.

    And hey: if these young fellas are healthy enough to carry guns here at home, why don’t they just sign up for the military so they can carry guns in real war?

  15. Dave, I think your example of the accidental discharge is an excellent example of why the Army doesn’t need or want gun-toting vigilantes outside their recruitment centers. But the Oath Keepers say that by bringing up that story, you’re just being a snotty Alinskyite “who would demonstrably rather see recruiters dead than either armed or guarded.” You just want dead soldiers, right, Dave? ;-)

  16. Yes, Cory, Tehran John should be brought up to speed though wouldn’t you think? Why doesn’t someone take him to task for being such and idiot?

  17. barry freed

    You do realize that the person credited with coining the term “ammosexual” sleeps naked with a gun.

    Says he will never give it up as his Beverly Hills neighborhood is soooo dangerous.

    90210 PD claims an almost unbelievable 3 minute police response time, but Maher knows when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

  18. mike from iowa

    The guy credited with the saying “up,up and away” was a cartoon mouse and he didn’t need guns or the police to protect him. He was “Mighty Mouse.” Don’t know if he slept naked.

  19. Jon Holmdal

    Having guns in malls and guns in schools. What kind of message does that tell our young people? It tells them that carrying guns and using them is an acceptable way to deal with disputes.

  20. yup.yup,yup. go back to thde Re…wait a minute. 2nd amendment is a right, not just a privilege to attend a civic center event. staff has the right to eject drunken patrons. “oh, we didn’t know they were drunk”. maybe staff patrols the sky boxes and keeps written documentation of drunken patrons progress toward drunkenness?

    we eliminated almost every bar in downtown rapid city in my period, but now city events, mere licenses, not rights, are larger and larger offenders of public peace, obviously. allender needs to put an in-agency task force on this problem, then have them report out of the RCPD to a citizen committee, non-partisan, and well qualified in the addiction sciences, educators,and not the wholesaler and retailer industry!

    it is just a part of normal, responsible police protection.

  21. mike from iowa

    Considering the actions of dumbass dubya after (before and during,too) might come to believe you take out your aggressions on undermanned third partys not connected to your beef.