A man clad in military gear could be seen in Farmington Tuesday near the Armed Forces Career Center on Walton Drive. He was positioned with two others catty-cornered from the center in the parking lot next to KFC.

Missouri Citizen Militia member Aaron Penberthy said his personal mission, along with others who are associated with the Oath Keepers, is to protect the local recruiter’s office after four Marines and one Navy recruiter were murdered in a terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16. Penberthy said he plans to be there a couple days this week and when he isn’t there, somebody else will be.

According to a press release from Tori Proffer, organizer of the Oath Keepers campaign, “In response by American citizens to this abhorrent behavior, the Arkansas chapter of Oath Keepers has initiated 'Operation: Protect The Protectors,' a mission to set armed veterans and citizens to guard recruiting centers. Missourians are joining this mission, with the help and support of veterans and citizens from St. Francois County and the Constitution Party of Missouri.”

Proffer said Oath Keepers is a non-profit organization (http://oathkeepers.org/) that she has been a member of since 2010.

"To be a member of Oath Keepers, one must have a military background or be LEO (law enforcement officer). I am one of three thousand women Marines that served Honorably during Vietnam."

Penberthy said he and the Oath Keepers are out there protecting the Armed Forces Career Center because those in the office are not allowed to be armed themselves.

“We don’t want what happened in Tennessee to happen here,” said Penberthy. “They know we are here and they have offered us chairs or drinks, but we have pretty much taken care of ourselves. They seem appreciative that we are here and we will be out here until they go home.”

He added the military members are trained to use firearms to protect American citizens overseas and they are not allowed to have them here.

“They are sitting ducks and supposedly all these places are targets, which is not right,” said Penberthy. “Thanks to our Constitution and our Second Amendment we are able to do stuff like this. We are just Americans protecting other Americans. That’s why we are here. That’s what we will do and continue to do until the threat of ISIS is gone.”

Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker said legally these civilians have a right to do what they are doing and it’s his job as a police chief to make sure that whatever is done, is done legally and it’s being done by city or state ordinance.

“We received a call from an individual who wanted to do this and I told them they have a right to stand there and that as long as they legally have a right to carry a weapon, they can,” said Baker. “The sheriff is aware of it as well and legally they have a right to do a demonstration. It’s their right to voice their personal opinion as long as they are not on private property, impeding traffic in some way or pushing their agenda onto somebody. As long as they have a conceal and carry permit they have a right to have a gun in their possession.”

"We do not need permission from LEO to carry weapons, that is our right," Proffer said. "I informed Chief Baker and Sheriff Bullock out of respect, not need. However, after speaking with Chief Baker and Sheriff Bullock, I agreed to no 'LONG GUNS' so that we would not burden their perspective departments with any undue calls.

"I am proud of St. Francois county and their concern for our Marines, as well as their patriotism. As well I am proud that our campaign has gone 'viral' as it should. This is an important issue for the American people.

"As well I am proud that I am helping Oath Keepers organize on a national level, so that every recruiting office may have the protection that our government is denying."

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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