COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) It’s a movement gaining steam every day: ordinary citizens taking up arms standing watch at recruiting centers nationwide.
The effort comes almost a week after four service members were gunned down at two military sites in Chattanooga.
Larry Fitzpatrick, a member of the 3% Irregulars Ohio Militia, began his watch here outside the Armed Forces Recruiting Center at 4834 West Broad Street last Friday.
“I came down here and I said I was going to do something to defend them,” he said.
His presence, along with his .22 caliber rifle, hasn’t gone unnoticed by local law enforcement.
“They said ‘we’re going to be patrolling.’ And I said ‘if you’re here then I’m going home,’” said Fitzpatrick. “But they told me to stay here. And then they told me sit out here with my gun.”
So what do law enforcement officers think this effort to protect service members?
Sergeant Rich Weiner, public information officer for the Columbus Division of Police, said Larry is within his constitutional right to stand there armed.
“It’s legal for people to have open arms in public. We don’t have an issue with it,” said Weiner.
But they do have concerns about safety both for those standing guard, and the public?
“When you have citizens who are armed and they’re open carried, you don’t know what kind of training that they been through,” explained Sgt. Weiner. “You don’t know the background. Are they carrying legal? Are they carrying illegal? Do they have a permit? Do they not have a permit?”
Sgt. Weiner said as long as they are obeying the law, patrol officers won’t make special stops.
“But if there is an issue, if someone calls and says I’m having a problem with a guy with a gun here, then we’re going to show up and we’re going to start asking questions,” said Weiner.
Larry and his supporters said they train regularly, and are prepared to fight if there is a threat.
“We are trained to do defense, not offense. We are the good guys. We are here to defend anyone here,” said Fitzpatrick.