On Marines, Guns, Laws, and Citizen Responsibilities.

Dear America,

Hi. I am writing this on the week of a truly tragic event. I am referring to the death of four Marines and the injury of several other people in Chattanooga Tennessee.

There of course cannot just be a time of mourning, there must also be a time of blame and misinformation. There are people using this tragedy as a platform to discredit the current President Obama by insinuating he had anything to do with the legislation or practices around Marines carrying arms at recruitment centers.

I am not a lawyer, I have not served my country in any branch of the military, and I do not own a gun. I am a citizen armed with the internet, many servicemen and servicewomen in my life, and an active interest in the policies and realities of living in the USA today. Some of what I write in this may be outdated or incorrect. Please feel free to correct me on points with actual sources to back you up so that I may become more accurate in my learning in a respectful manner.

My partner is a prior Marine who served between May 2001 and May 2006, did three deployments to Iraq and left as a Corporal. So when there started to be allegations that there was a law preventing Marines from carrying arms while doing recruitment duty, I went to the source.

Me:     Hey, is there legislation that prevents Marines from carrying on home soil?

Him:  Do you mean carrying weapons? Because we do. Specifically for training.

            I’m guessing you mean running specific military missions on home soil?

Me:     No like in recruiting centers and such.

Him:   What have you gotten wrapped up in?



Him:  WHAT!?! Marines don’t carry all the time because there is no reason to. I want to     

            reach through the internet and slap him!

Me:     What is the protocol with it? I am pretty sure its in your handbook, but I don’t have    

             access to it.

Him:    Protocol with small arms? All weapons are held in a unit armoury. Personally

              owned as well if you live in the barracks. You can check out a weapon that is

              issued to you for cleaning and training if the armoury is open. Ammunition is

              issued at firing ranges and during deployments.

Me:       What about private carry for personal protection or for working in a recruitment


Him:    As far as I know there is no restriction for private carry off base. There are some

             restrictions on base but that is by base commander order. And you never carry at      

             a recruitment centre. But that is more about image then security or trust. So much

             of what the Marines do off base is for image and public approval.

            I mean, think of it this way:

           What parent wants to take their kid to a recruiter’s and see them be armed?

There is a great deal to think about in this conversation. I’m not asking you to agree with the policies. The whole point in theory of having a military armed force is to keep the home country protected from external aggression. If you are not secure in the idea that you can’t apply for the job in a safe space, then what are you signing up to protect?

Because here is the reality kids, there is a law called Posse Comitatus act of 1878 and in brief it states:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

This does not apply to the National Guard, the Navy, the Marines, or the Coast Guard, but:

The language of the act mentions only the Army and the Air Force, but it is applicable to the Navy and Marines by virtue of administrative action and commands of other laws. The law enforcement functions of the Coast Guard have been expressly authorized by act of Congress and consequently cannot be said to be contrary to the act. The act has been applied to the National Guard when it is in federal service, to civilian employees of the Armed Forces, and to off-duty military personnel. The act probably only applies within the geographical confines of the United States, but the supplemental provisions of 10 U.S.C. §§ 371-382 appear to apply worldwide.

Or for the wikipedia less wordy version:

The Act does not apply to the National Guardunder state authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within its home state or in an adjacent state if invited by that state’s governor. The United States Coast Guard, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security, is not covered by the Posse Comitatus Act either, primarily because although the Coast Guard is an armed service, it also has both a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency mission.

So first let us acknowledge that in 1878, President Obama had less than nothing to do with the passing of this seeming liberal act of the time. This would be President Taft. There have been attempts to change the law most recently in 2006 under President George W. Bush for emergencies such as Katrina in New Orleans, but that did not pass.

Somewhere about here in the argument someone usually likes to bring up that President Clinton disarmed the military bases. Have a Snopes Article, and a quote: “We have never had our soldiers walking around with weapons all the time, other than in combat zones,” he added, noting only Military Police have had that authority.” – Steven Bucci .

(Here is another side of this act that has more to do with #blacklivesmatter that with the shooting in Tennessee.That is just for your contemplative reading, and back to the original ramble.)

Here is a piece of personal opinion from me (see I said opinion) that you will find it fairly 50/50 that people in the armed forces don’t really want to carry all the time.

Contrary to popular belief, not every minute of everyday in the service is a gun toting moment. Sometimes there’s push ups. Or studying. Or paperwork, mess duty (I don’t want to eat from the kitchen where guns are necessary do you?), sewing on of patches and buttons, video games, sex, golf, video games…Our servicepeople are not in combat mode 24/7 even in a warzone. Your brain would die. It’s one of the reasons their humor is weird.

For every vet you see blowing things up on the fourth of July or waving in a parade there is another hiding in their apartment with noise canceling headphones on or sleeping under a bridge. While many love to hunt and shoot for food and entertainment, others jump at back firing cars and do everything they can to separate life in a uniform from life outside of it.

The whole point of being on base, or on home turf, is this weird lie that it is supposed to be safer (we are not looking at the fact that many of the recruits in our service come from violent and economically disadvantaged backgrounds in the USA, where being deployed overseas means less chance of being shot). Our military for the most part, has no interest in being the country’s police.

It is not and cannot be the job of the President to force change on the citizenry without a list of actions to go through. Those are not presidents, we call those kings and such.

It is not the job of our servicepeople to make the country a safer and better place to live.

Sorry normal citizens.

That duty falls to us.

As it SHOULD, and instead of bitching about it in the ether of text and memes, we should be doing what we can in real life to fight for our damn selves. An action, however small can change the reality of where we live. Our service people as well as every ordinary citizen and immigrant or refugee should be able to not live in a war zone. Isn’t that the propaganda? To come home safe?

We should be focused on revising our laws to make civil rights and health services more accessible, we should ensure that our education system isn’t hobbling our youth, we should be focused on conservation and innovative industries where our future looks like Americans actually being able to work. We should have gun laws that are at least as strict as the laws for driving a vehicle. We should have a way of actually policing our police (because we do not at this time). We should have laws about capitalistic exploitation of resources in times of drought and famine. This list could go on forever.

We also need to educate our own selves because our education system has failed us. How many of us actually know how the government works? Who is in office locally where you live? Who are your representatives? Do you actually personally know any police or firemen in your hometown or city? Because until I turned thirty I’m going to admit I had no clue.

They don’t need to work harder for you America.

You need to work harder for them.

They don’t need to carry guns at home.

You need to make it a place where they shouldn’t have to.


  • Another beautifully written piece. Sharing all over the place this morning. Wof and hugs!

    Ben Bear

    Ben Brown Jr.July 19, 2015

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