The Army has warned its recruiters to treat the gun-toting civilians who are gathering at centers across the country as a security threat.
Militia members and gun toting civilians have been standing guard outside the recruiting centers in response to the killing of four unarmed Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a lone gunman, who was later killed by police.
The Stars And Stripes reports:
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.
Armed citizens — some associated with activist groups and militias — were standing vigil outside recruiting centers in Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee, Idaho and elsewhere this week, saying they want to provide protection to servicemembers barred from carrying firearms on duty.
“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.
Recruiters have been ordered to not interact or acknowledge the armed civilians.
“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.
In addition, recruiters are ordered to immediately fill out an Army security report.
“Local communities can support our security by reporting suspicious activity, particularly around recruiting centers,” Kelli Bland, a spokeswoman for Army Recruiting Command told Stars and Stripes.
The founder of the Oath Keepers issued a national call Tuesday to guard recruitment centers.
Watch via the Stars And Stripes:
In Lewiston, Idaho, three men with a right-wing group known as “3 percenters” — a national alliance with members who prepare “for any situation, man-made or natural” — stood outside a recruiting office this week.
The Navy said earlier that if armed civilians show up at recruitment centers, they will not be there.
Capt. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps public affairs officer for the recruiting district that includes parts of seven Midwestern states, said he hopes the armed civilians go home.
“While we greatly appreciate the support of the American public during this tragedy, we ask that citizens do not stand guard at our recruiting offices,” Stenger said. “Our continued public trust lies among our trained first responders for the safety of the communities where we live and work.”
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