To the Armed Civilians Guarding Military Recruiting Centers

Chattanooga Marines

Gather around gents. I am going to say this one time and one time only. Finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Ok, I lied, I am going to say it one more time. Finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire. I swear to you, if I see one more picture of a yahoo posing in his tactical gear for the press with his finger on the trigger, I am going to lose my mind. Yes, I am sure the military appreciates your show of solidarity and truthfully, I too supported your show of support in this manner. It was as if the love for our military and the 2nd amendment made a baby and who couldn’t love a little child like that. That being said, if you can’t look reasonably professional while doing so, please just send a “Thinking about You” card instead of menacing strip malls with your poor trigger discipline.

What’s the plan?

Over the past week, a Navy recruiter shot himself in the leg with his own firearm in a recruiting office. Then, not to be outdone, an armed civilian outside a recruiting office accidentally fired his weapon into the pavement. I don’t think these two shootings were connected, but I am pretty sure the name of both these men is Carl. Dang it Carl, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Now, I was serious when I said I supported the show of force as a moment of solidarity and support. To have civilians, some Veterans and some not, stand guard outside of local recruiting offices was a patriotic gesture. It was a moment of reassurance and it initially appears to be well received by the military community. That being said, I think we have to be honest with ourselves that this is not a long term sustainable plan. ISIS is not going anywhere anytime soon and I hardly think we can staff every recruiting and reserve center for the next 5 years.


So it is time to start giving serious thought towards a practical plan commensurate with the level of threat. Yet before we get to that, I just want you examine the picture above and notice the finger. Say it with me now, straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Even if you have been shot after slaying bad guys. Let’s move on.

The Experts

For those jumping to protect recruiting centers, I would again applaud the symbol of your actions and quick response. Although, it may very well be time to take inventory. It is entirely plausible that the presence of armed men outside recruiting stations will pose a greater threat to our recruiters that outweighs any benefit.  We presume a terrorist will look like he stepped right off the fields of Iraq wearing his Haji man dress and all.  Yet, we must consider that those seeking to do our military harm could look like any American dressed man carrying a weapon.  Those of us who served in the GWOT wars know that telling friend from foe in a crowd is hardly as easy as it seems.

Marines in Chattanooga

And then there is Carl.  Freaking Carl. Hey Carl, look at the picture above of me and my Marine buddies in Kuwait.  That picture was obviously staged, but at no point did we all communicate what we are doing with our fingers.  Say it with me one more time, finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.  The simple fact is, the ability to carry a weapon does not automatically translate to an ability to use it wisely.  That is probably my only complaint of the open carry movement.  If you look like a 500 lb kid who crawled out of his mom’s basement, then I really don’t want to see you walking down the street with an Ak-47.  So if you are going to exercise your constitutional right, I simply ask that you exude the professionalism we hope is on the other end of that weapon.  And stick your freaking trigger finger out.

The Solution

There was a brilliant piece of writing by William Saletan of Slate Magazine calling the Chattanooga killings an act of war rather than terrorism.  I actually had the opportunity to conduct a radio interview with him and a few others on a radio show.  His premise, which I support, is basically this.  We attack recruiting and training centers all the time overseas.  If we blow up an ISIS recruiter, we celebrate it as a victory and a military accomplishment.  So why would we expect ISIS to be any different?  This is a war.  We are killing their military and they would love to kill ours.  And whether we like it or not , the battlefield is being brought home to us.  Thus, we must arm for the battle at hand.  It is a game of chess people and it is now, our move.

War with ISIS

Look, it doesn’t have to mean a 240 Golf, they still use those right, at the entrance to every recruiting station.  We can’t recruit from an armed bunker.  However, it could be an NCO with access to a weapon at every recruiting station.  That would seem commensurate with the threat until the threat elevates.  Honestly, I’ll leave the strategic planning to the experts, however I will insist that America come to terms with the war at hand.  If the experts feel that throwing a bag of angry cats on the attacker would suffice, then so be it.  However, get ready.  I don’t think these lone wolf attacks will happen with regular frequency, yet this is not an Xbox game of Call of Duty.  Meaning, I am not really concerned about my kill/death ratio as much as I am concerned about the one death.  As infrequent as they may be, we need to smartly prepare our warriors in the community for the war that is already at hand.  Because use whatever verbal acrobatics you want to label this, but a war by any other name, is still a war. And for the last time, finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire. I’m talking to you Carl.

If You Have Good Trigger Discipline Then Like the Unprecedented Mediocrity Facebook Page Below. 

Jeff Edwards


  1. People using the meme of the walking dead is the reason why we can’t have nice things. If professionalism is what you are trying to speak. Then make it firm and exact. Straight to the point. Booger picker off the trigger until ready to engage. Life or death situations require a total mindset of understanding and stress level control. Situation awareness, surrounding awareness, behavioral awareness. It is hard to distinguish the enemy from foe when in the open. Their actions speak louder than words. Recognizing that, will be the key factor. But what do I know? My name is Carl.

  2. The Navy recruiter thing made me think of that SSgt from Wpns Co who shot the LCpl in the leg playing quick draw down at Camp Coyote. Great read as always Jeff. I asked my 03 LCpl son if they still used 240Gs and he rolled his eyes at me and called me old. ISIS Just pretty much shut down any hopes the Dems had for gun control. And Americans will begin to understand what vets have been telling them for years. These are not Germans and Japs we are dealing with. If we go home before they are done they will bring the war to us. But good job Mr. President for ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Yeah man, I forgot about that shooting! I am guessing someone got in trouble over that. But I serious wasn’t sure if they used 240’s anymore. So much has changed over the past 13 years. But I agree, whether we like it or not, the battlefield is expanding to us and we must get ready.

Comments are closed.