Armed And Determined, Civilians Look To Prevent Another Chattanooga
By JESS BIDGOOD
MANCHESTER, N.H. — As parents shopped for baby clothes and children played arcade games at stores in an indistinct strip mall here, some 10 heavily armed civilians stood outside the military recruitment center, guarding the recruiters inside.
Hundreds of miles away in Hixson, Tenn., two men sat in folding chairs, one with a .40-caliber handgun on his hip, guarding a recruiting center just miles away from the two military sites where a gunman opened fire last week, killing four Marines and a Navy petty officer at a training center.
Across the country, from New Hampshire to Washington State, armed civilians could be seen standing at recruitment centers in similar fashion.
“We felt that if our government wasn’t going to protect our men and women of the military at these locations, we felt it was our duty,” said Stevie D, 48, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy who stood outside an armed services recruitment center here on Tuesday with several others, including one man who carried an AR-15 style assault rifle that, he said, he had made himself.
Mr. D — who has legally changed his last name to a single letter — was armed with a .556-caliber battle rifle and a .45-caliber pistol, and had ammunition strapped to his chest.
For the military, the armed civilians create a dilemma: While it is nice to be appreciated, recruiters rely on the openness and accessibility of storefronts to reach potential recruits, and the presence of armed civilians can be intimidating.