Military Appreciation Day at the Mall. Cool! But...


March 28, 2004, 01:22 PM
So, today being my anniversary, of course, at 4:00 yesterday, I found myself heading to the mall to pick up some stuff for my wife.

Turns out the mall was pretty packed, and there were all kinds of booths set up for 'Military Appretiation Day.' Mostly there were groups of Marines or Sailors sitting there with cool pictures of what they did. But, the divers had their gear, and then, at the far end of the mall, a group of Marines had driven in a Humvee, and where letting kids climb all in it. They were even allowed to climb up inside, and sit behind the mounted machine gun, and swing it around, which was cool. Near here, the same group of Marines had a table set up with some weapons. AND they were letting folks fondle them! Now, this called for a closer look.

It was cool stuff. They had an M-14 set up on a bipod, with a manly looking scope on top. Then, they were passing around an M-4 with a Red-Dot scope on top. And, a very tactical looking Beretta, complete with a flash-light mounted under the barrel.

So, all this was very cool, watching these kids play with these weapons. But....THEY WERE POINTING THEM AT PEOPLE! AND THEIR FINGERS WERE ON THE TRIGGERS!

This kind of freaked me out. I mean, I was pretty sure that the Marines had done something to make the guns safe, but there was nothing you could see. It just kind of gave me the hebbie-jebbies. So, I approached a young corporal, and asked him what they did to make the guns safe for the kids.

Maybe it was the pink and white Victorias Secret bag in my hand(I HAD been shopping for my wife) but the Marine just kind of looked at me, gave me a barely noticable eye roll, and said, 'The firing mechanisims inside have been disabled'.


I kind of let it go at that, but I still had goosebumps. In the minute or so I was standing there, I must have heard the slide on the Beretta get racked about a dozen times, while the gun was pointing every which direction. And, 'Disabled Firing Mechanisim' or not, there is something creepy about seeing a 12-year old test a Red Dot scope by tracking a mom and her kid in the mall with an M-4.

Maybe I'm just a wimp, but it kind of ruined what I thought was an otherwise cool Pro-Military event.


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March 28, 2004, 02:19 PM
The firing mechanisms were disabled by them removing rounds from the chamber ;)

March 28, 2004, 02:28 PM
Priv8ter, I hear 'ya. I can't play laser tag (or likely not paintball either) because it just BOTHERS me to point a gun (even a non-"real" one) at somebody and pull the trigger.

Actually, I can't point it at anyone. Kids aiming weapons (even "disabled" ones) would drive me nuts!

Anyone else find they are very uncomfortable pointing a (non-dangerous) "gun" at someone? Maybe I just need help. :uhoh:


March 28, 2004, 04:10 PM
I kind of get a slight feeling seeing unloaded and ungassed paintball guns pointed at me when I am not playing.

I couldplay airsoft, but not point them at friends willy nilly off the field even if they were completely deactivated.

Abominable No-Man
March 28, 2004, 04:26 PM
The M4 can be "disabled" by pulling the firing pin or the entire bolt and carrier assembly out.

Be that as it may, I think whoever was in charge of that detail was very negligent.

A public display of firearms can be a good thing, and teaching the young ones about guns can be a better thing, but under the conditions you describe, the entire detail could have ended up in some very deep
fecal matter quick. Most "military appreciations days" will have some kind of display of firepower, but letting people just walk up and handle the weapons is a definite no-no, especially if it's a youngster sighting in on a mother and child.


March 28, 2004, 04:33 PM
gave me a barely noticable eye roll, and said, 'The firing mechanisims inside have been disabled'.

....[Read]....."we are the military and we are above you commoners."

You are correct in your assumption. They had the opportunity to teach the correct gun handling rules and blew it big time! :mad:

I challenge any veteran to tell me that letting civilians take weapons and break the four rules is OK, in the name of whatever.

March 28, 2004, 06:10 PM
We were taught better than that in Boot Camp I assure you!

Having said that, these were more than likely reservests. They have more time to "forget" between handling weapons. Another option was they were REMF and shot once a year then cleaned the weapons and never saw them again till it was time to Qual again.

I agree it was a missed opportunity to teach and explain.

I have even seen Active duty Marines (myself included) keep our fingers off the triggers of rubber rifles during zodiac training. Thats the way it should be!

March 28, 2004, 06:51 PM
Not intended as a snub on the Corps ... rhetorical question ... what are these Marines doing in a mall instead of in theater over in Iraq?

usmcmonty, I agree with you that they were probably reservists or REMFs ... very sad a "military appreciation day" has to become a Charlie Brown "show and tell" event thanks to these rocket scientists.

Too bad the public doesn't care to learn better.

March 28, 2004, 10:29 PM
The last time I saw something like this was at an El Toro air show, about 1988 or so. You could hold the weapon, but you had a very observant Marine standing right next to you, and they were polite but firm WRT "4 rule" violations.

I haven't seen publicly holdable weapons since then, however, even at my own base airshow. Not that I need to hold them, since I have my own copies at my place.... (except the M9, but who needs it :p )

March 28, 2004, 11:44 PM
what are these Marines doing in a mall instead of in theater over in Iraq?

Sounds like recruiting to me. IIRC, that even went on during WWI and WWII.:rolleyes:

March 28, 2004, 11:52 PM
Can't say as I approve of pointing firearms at anyone no matter how safe they are. Try that in boot and some DI will make you an unhappy camper!

I will not ever make criticisms of the Corps though. I will criticize individual Marines but not the Corps! Good Night "Chesty" wherever you are!;)

Steve in PA
March 28, 2004, 11:53 PM

From your question I can assume that you don't know much about the military, but none every single person in the military is overseas. They may have been on recruiting duty, stationed at a base in the area (REMF so to speak), a hundred reasons why.

As for allowing the weapons to be pointed.......the military isn't big on the 4 golden rules. Yes, it would have been nice to have them enlighten the people there.

March 29, 2004, 12:46 AM
"reservists".... ouch... The implication that the reserves aren't "real" military, don't know how to handle a firearm or fight, kinda hurts.

4v50 Gary
March 29, 2004, 12:53 AM
I plea guilty to violating Rule #1 about Muzzle Control. As a young'un, I visited a Navy Submarine rescue ship, the U.S.S. Florikan, and trained its 20 mm gun on a civilian ferry boat and tracked it.:o

March 29, 2004, 01:42 AM
It would have been nice to have a big sign with the 4 rules on it. You can play with the toys, BUT you can't do anything stupid...

Hey, if you really want to be technical, just by holding that M4 there may have been legal issues about being 'in posession' of a machinegun.

While I do respect the hard-liners on the 4 rules, I personally know the difference between a paintball gun and a .30-06. I shot squirt guns all the time at friends, however I have yet to sweep anyone with a muzzle of a GUN in my life.

Reflex training is good, but I do have a brain too. (it sees limited employment, lest I become overconfident! :)

March 29, 2004, 02:05 AM
You know, I'm half-expecting somebody to post a thread about how his unit's efforts to casually familiarize people with firearms at the mall today were interrupted by some "blissninny with a Victoria's Secret bag". :D

I, too, think panning them as reservists is uncalled for.

As an aside, choice of language probably led to the response you got from the corporal. Somebody asking, "what did you do to make the guns safe for the children?" is going to put most of us on the defensive. Asking "have you removed the firing pin or bolt assembly?" is at least going to indicate you know what you're talking about, while making the same point.

March 29, 2004, 02:12 AM
...."we are the military and we are above you commoners."

It could also read as "gee we come to a mall to show the kids a good time and cast the military in a positive light and we get the Nazi who is uptight about it".

The guns were most likely dummy 'parade" weapons. Whatever you do NEVER go to a Parade!!!!! I mean gosh think about how many get swept with the muzzle when they are twirlin them things around!!! :rolleyes:

March 29, 2004, 03:08 AM
Odds are you know/could find out where they were from. Give them a call/drop in and talk to someone there. Let them know you LOVE the idea but have concerns about a SMALL part of it. I was at the FL State Fair. They let kids (and adults) :) Track with AA guns. They had cleared a circle (these were older type two person guns with one wheel for elevation and other for rotation. They had blocked it so you could NOT bring it lower then roof of tallest building in area. IIRC.
Maybe they could paste some targets to wall and put a rope from front sling point to table. I.E. gun could NOT be pointed at public from other side of table.

March 29, 2004, 07:41 AM
I think Gunnery Sgt. Ermey (Mail Call) should pay that mall a visit and speak to those marines. I could hear him now..."Marine, those weapons are made for killin', not playtime pointing at the civilian population." Now that would be a great day shopping at the mall.

March 29, 2004, 08:17 AM
Emery sure seems to enjoy playing with those weapons himself.

March 29, 2004, 11:10 AM
Steve in PA,

Not that hapafish needs me to come to his defense, but, I'm fairly certain he knows a few things about the military. That is especially true since his most recent mailing address was an APO deep inside Iraq. He happens to be an Infantryman assigned to the 101st ABN DIV (AASLT) at Fort Campbell, KY. I'm quite certain he understands that not all Marines are going to be in Iraq at the same time, hence him saying "... rhetorical question ... ". I'll leave it for him to say what he really meant though.

Frank (101st ABN '97-'02)

March 29, 2004, 11:57 AM
I agree. Basic training engagements with blanks was a tough one. My dad would knock me from here to there if I every thought about pointing a muzzle at someone and here a drill sergeant was telling to do so. No problem in a real situation, but I had no desire in shooting the kid living down the isle in the barracks.

March 29, 2004, 12:18 PM
Being former Army, I bet they just pulled the firing pins on the M16s. I would not have let them point the weapons at anyone. A lot of those demos are manned by people who are told"you are gonna go to the mall and talk to people" No choice on the matter. Sometimes the ones that are told that are not the "best choice". The NCOIC or OIC of the exibit should know better.And also remember that not everyone who is in the Armed Services has as much respect for firearms as you or I. I know the "every Marine is a Rifleman" motto, but "every Marine is also a human" and some pay more attention than others. I have great respect for the Men and Women in our Armed Forces, but having been there I can honestly say that if they were all perfect we would have no use for Article 15's or the USMC version of it. That said, I still think the OIC or NCOIC should have stopped the mishandling.

March 29, 2004, 12:45 PM
Steve in PA

I'm with 2nd BN, 327th INF, 101st ABN DIV ... MOS 11B/C (dual) ... started out as a mortar slug in the 81's because DA reclassed me against my will, then went to 60's, then fought to get reclassed to 11B and the line. Been in before 9/11, missed Afghanistan, watched the guys from 187th INF take the glory for that, and spent my year in Iraq. Staying in for the next yearlong rotation and whatever may come next. If you don't believe me, I can either give you a number to call me at work once I get back from leave, so PM me.

That's why I said "rhetorical" when I posted. I have respect for Marines, even though I've had my share of run-ins in Japan and elsewhere with them, so I put that out first before the rest to make it clear I wasn't going to insult the Corps. I know there are enough slots in recruiting etc to keep people stateside for this kind of mall-invasion job, even though the end strength for all the branches is set ridiculously low and we don't have nearly enough people for real important things like being in theater overseas. My line platoon went in with a whole squad worth of guys missing when it crossed the border in Kuwait. It's still understrength, as are many other units in my brigade. As for equipment ... I'll leave that ugliness aside.

When I read the post that started this thread, I thought of our company's two beat-up humvees that have been in since 1985. I thought of all the guys in our battalion who didn't even have decent working M68s and of all the Surefires forever out of batteries. I thought of our beat-up M4s and M9s and compared all this to the starched, spit and polish display that must have been put on for the public at this mall.

And apparently all this display did was to to demonstrate ... what did it demonstrate? Well, I hope the Marines in question earn whatever TDY pay they're pulling for going on tour.


I'm sorry about the perceived insult to reservists; having seen some incredibly squared away reserve units, screwed over as they were in theater, I think some of us in active duty could take lessons. But having seen enough overhanging guts and negative things about the reserves as a whole, methinks that a lot of them are confused about the job requirements. You obviously are not. More power to you, and hope you stay in.


Caught your screenname and when you were in ... you must have been in Afghanistan? If you're out ... thank you for your service ... I think my uncle told me someone from FA was in the forum? You used to be in 320th I assume? Have a good day ... and enjoy life wherever you are.

Peace out.

Abominable No-Man
March 29, 2004, 10:53 PM
hapafish- I'm at FTCKY, too. PM or email me when you get back from leave. Maybe we can mosey up to the Shell Shop........


Steve in PA
March 30, 2004, 12:12 AM

I ended my tour of duty in the Corps in 60mm mortars (0341), before that I did a year as a M60 machinegunner, even though my primary MOS was 0351 (anti-tank). My enlistment included being stationed in Beirut, Lebanon. I was out before they bombed the Marine Barracks.

I did a few years in the PA Army National Guard here recently as an M1A Abrhams tank crewman. I just got my Honorable Discharge from them. I'm extremely lucky, as my old unit just got sent over to Iraq. I was on seperated duty from the Guard the last couple of years because of my "civilian" job (LEO), or I'd be over there with them now.

March 30, 2004, 01:34 AM
Abominable No-Man

Haha ... I'm usually found lurking in the 1st Brigade area or at the Lightfighter store off post ... trying to avoid BN Staff Duty and CQ (I've pulled every Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and "personal emergency" for as long as I can remember) ... I'll PM you when I get back ... I read "Chinooks" in your profile ... you're somewhere in Aviation-land I take it? Lucky you ...

Steve in PA
Marine first and then Army National Guard? :confused: Well ... everyone has their reasons ... good luck in your current job.

Peace out.

Abominable No-Man
March 30, 2004, 09:21 AM
.. I read "Chinooks" in your profile ... you're somewhere in Aviation-land I take it? Yep, 159th. Lemme know when you get back, and we'll link up.

Steve in PA- LOL. I was a jarhead first, too. LOL.



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