SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Shaun Raines spent four years in the Marine Corps and another six working as a federal police officer. Back home in Savannah, Georgia, he was shocked to hear what happened in Tennessee, that five military members died after an armed gunman attacked two military facilities.
The attack began at a recruitment center in Chatanooga. So Monday morning, when recruiters for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines showed came to their recruitment offices, all located in a Savannah strip mall, they found something extra: the presence of Raines outside the offices. He was armed with a rife and handgun, displaying both.
He said no one had asked him to come, but he felt it was the right thing to do.
“One of the things I learned not only in the Marine Corps but but also in security forces, the best deterrent is presence,” he said.
Raines said he has a conceal carry permit which allows him to display his weapons. Savannah-Chatham Metro police say that permit and a change in Georgia law allows Raines to do what he did Monday. Police did not exactly seem to be encouraging it however. And neither were Army recruiting officials I talked to in Jacksonville. They indicated there is “always some concern about safety for our soldiers and civilians when someone is walking around with weapons.”
Raines seem to see things in just the opposite way. “I’m out here today to make sure that the ladies and gentlemen (inside these recruitment centers) can do their jobs safely,” he told me. And while we couldn’t talk to recruiters, Raines claimed he had. “When I introduced myself at first they were really relieved, I’ve had conversations with every single one of them,”
Raines said when arriving, he went to all offices in the strip mall (which not only included recruitment offices but a loan company) and introduced himself and told everyone what he was doing and why. He said everyone seemed to think it was fine.
One person visiting the Air Force recruitment office was Camie Goods, preparing to say goodbye to her son, who is joining the Air Force. When asked what she thought when she saw Raines she said: “Oh, I’m so thankful, I’m so thankful. And I’m hoping that the Administration will definitely allow that our armed servicemen who are sitting ducks out here will be carrying sooner than later.”
Currently, Department of Defense (DOD) rules do not allow recruitment officers to carry weapons in the office.
Army Recruitment officials from Jacksonville (which covers the Savannah area offices) said civilian guards are not encouraged and there is “some concern about safety for soliders and civilians when someone is walking around displaying weapons.” They said if any issues arise, it would be a local police matter.
Metro police again said that Raines did not appear to be breaking the law, although police didn’t seem to be encouraging civilian guards either.
Raines told me he is a member of the conservative group Oath Keepers and that he has put the word out for other local members to join him. “I took it upon myself to do exactly what I needed to do today,” he said. “If somebody else takes the baton, that would be great.”