Marine veteran Danny Michaels puffed on a cigarette Wednesday while he sat in front of the Armed Forces Career Center on South Maryland Parkway. His .40-caliber pistol was snug in its holster on his hip and his Mossberg shotgun loaded with buckshot was within arm’s reach.
Since Monday he’s been guarding recruiters while they work in uniform inside the career center in hopes to deterring anyone who might try to levy an armed assault like Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez did Thursday at a naval reserve center in Chattanooga, Tenn., that killed four Marines and a sailor.
“They’re unarmed and we’re at war,” he said about the recruiters. “Somebody has got to protect them. … I want to stop them before they get in the door, and let them know this is not a soft target.”
Michaels, 65, said what happened in Chattanooga was “insane.” He noted that the sign on the outside of the career center says armed forces “but where’s the arms? I’m hoping the military or the secretary of defense is going to change this absurd rule” that prevents recruiters in uniform from carrying weapons.
He said he’ll keep showing up “as long as I can.”
The recruiters said they’re glad he’s there as are other veterans who have stopped by to bring him water, doughnuts and snacks.
What’s happening in Las Vegas is not unique to Las Vegas. It’s part of a nationwide movement in reaction to the Chattanooga killings. Citizen guards are taking similar armed stances in at least 20 states.
Another veteran, who wouldn’t give his name, joined Michaels by carrying a shotgun, as did Ron O’Brien, a non-veteran, pro-Second Amendment gun enthusiast.
“If anybody should be trusted with weapons it’s our military,” O’Brien said. “And our military is unarmed at a time of war. It’s unbelievable.”
In North Las Vegas, at the Army Recruiting Center on 445 W. Craig Road, 25-year-old Army veteran Josh Martin sat in an American flag-colored chair with a .45-caliber M1911 pistol on his hip and a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle at his side.
Martin, who spent 11 months of his four-year active duty from 2008 to 2012 in Afghanistan, said he felt called to sit at the door to support “defenseless” recruiters inside.
“It’s atrocious that our military men and women are trusted with arms abroad, but recruiters can’t even carry a pistol on our home turf,” he said.
Martin stationed himself next to the door starting Tuesday morning, when the recruiting center opened at 9 a.m., and stayed until it closed at 6 p.m, he said. Martin plans on doing the same each day until he starts classes at ITT Technical Institute in September.
“I’ll be here until somebody takes over for me or until the law is changed,” Martin said. “Or until I can no longer do it.”
Inside the Army center, lead recruiter Sgt. Kevin Barnhouse said he appreciated Martin’s intent, but couldn’t officially endorse him.
“We appreciate their efforts, they’re well within their rights,” Barnhouse said. “But we’re not affiliated with any of their organizations, we just can’t be.”
In Carson City, Nevada National Guard soldiers conducted an “active shooter” training exercise Wednesday.
About 200 employees at the Guard offices were part of the exercise, which was planned beginning about three months ago.
The training is expected to help both Carson City Sheriff’s deputies respond more quickly and efficiently to an active shooter incident such as the one at the capital IHOP nearly four years ago that left four victims, including three members of the Guard, dead at the hands of a mentally ill man.
Master Sgt. Christian Riege, Lt. Col. Heath Kelly, Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney and Florence Donovan-Gunderson were killed when Eduardo Sencion opened fire in the restaurant before killing himself in the parking lot.
Capt. Robert Kolvet, provost marshal of the Guard facility, said the exercise was a bit nerve-wracking for employees and responding law enforcement but will serve as a lesson in how to react should such an event actually occur.
Contact Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2. Contact Chris Kudialis at email@example.com or 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @kudialisrj. Contact Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.