SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Armed civilians stood guard Thursday outside a busy military recruiting center in South Dakota, a volunteer effort to protect recruiters following last week's killing of four Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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.
The men join others in the U.S. who have moved to guard recruiting centers where employees are not permitted to be armed.
There's no evidence that such centers are in danger, and the government isn't changing how they're staffed, although some governors have temporarily moved National Guard recruiting centers to armories and several have authorized Guard personnel to carry weapons at state facilities.
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."
The men aren't coordinating their efforts with any military branch.
Gallegos said he was inspired to begin guarding the recruiting center after seeing a news report about civilians in Tennessee doing the same.
"After Chattanooga, it seemed more of a responsibility to come out and do something," he said.
Gallegos, who said he stood outside the offices for nine hours on Wednesday, said the public reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. People have brought them food and drinks, he said.
Some men stationed outside the recruiting office Wednesday came equipped with high-powered rifles, but Gallegos, a Tea resident, said they didn't bring those out Thursday so they wouldn't disturb anyone.
"But we are ready to react in case something happens," Nohava said, "but we hope to God not."
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