MSSA Offers Advice for Protecting Montana Communities From Riot Mayhem


Some Montanans have asked if there is a briefing sheet for how community guards would function to protect their communities from the mayhem that has been in the news. No such briefing sheet has been apparent. What is offered below is just suggestions for any person or groups contemplating community protection. Ideas to improve this are welcome.

There is growing concern that federal forces could be invoked to address the rioting, looting, and arson so much in the news. That sort of federal response would surely diminish liberty. Nevertheless, the criminal, mob conduct we’ve seen on the news cannot and should not be ignored.

Against this background, there are a growing number of stories surfacing about armed citizens spontaneously emerging to join in protecting their communities from harm, and to provide a safe environment for peaceful protests. This is an excellent example of citizen involvement that protects liberty for all. If the rioting can be deterred by local citizens, it reduces the motive for any federal involvement to maintain peace and order.

This avoidance of federal intervention by locally-responsible citizen action will aid the cause of liberty.

Community Safety Guards

Those who volunteer to protect communities from vandals who would damage property, injure others, loot, or burn may wish to call themselves Community Safety Guards.

The purpose of this briefing sheet is only to offer suggestions about how such guards may be organized, equipped, and conduct themselves.


If there is more than one squad, someone should volunteer to coordinate among squads. The coordinator may also serve as the liaison with local law enforcement. If there are many squads, the coordinator may wish to task someone to work with him to handle communications, and possibly another person to address any needed logistics.

Squads should include a minimum of five persons. Members should know one another as much as possible. Guards should be acquainted with one another beforehand if possible. One guard would serve as the squad leader. Another would have a primary responsibility of capturing photos and video, especially to document any interactions with persons against whom guards are deployed. Very good idea. A third person would handle most communications with other squads and with the event coordinator. This could be done with family service radios, cell phones, or even messengers. Radios are very important. Messengers too. We have found phones to be hit and miss for this sort of commo. At least two other squad members would be constantly observing and assessing for possible problems.

Naming squads will aid with overall event coordination. One suggestion is to name squads with colors – blue, yellow, red, etc.


Usual personal gear for personal needs should be carried. Bring family service radios that may be set to a common channel for the event. Visible arms may deter destructive actions or looting, but guards may wish to avoid excessive arms for tactical and public relations reasons. One handgun and one long arm should suffice for the deterrent effect, and for self-defense if needed. Each squad should have some communications gear capable of communicating with other squads and with the event coordinator. People interested in serving in this capacity should consider obtaining a CWP. Law enforcement then feels you’ve been vetted by your local sheriff and therefore more worthy of their trust. My crew all have Concealed Weapon Permit (CWP).


Squads should be roving over a defined area that is coordinated with other squads or possibly assigned by the event coordinator. All contact with the public should be pleasant and courteous. Avoid disagreements with members of the public. Check your own politics at the door. If you don’t want to do that, then, rather than function as a guard, consider joining counter-protester groups instead. Guards should avoid consuming any alcohol before or during an event. Remember, many in the media will try hard to depict us as dangerous radicals or idiots. Don’t help them.

For safety and deterrent effects, squad members should stay and travel together when in the zone to be protected. Standard firearm safety should be attended at all times. Unholstered arms should be maintained muzzle pointed up or down, but never horizontal. If any guard members are not attentive to firearm safety, they may be new to firearms and other guard members should coach them. If coaching fails, participants should be instructed to secure their firearms in a vehicle. Zero tolerance on this point. Firearms safety is a reason guards should know each other. There must be a high level of both trust and confidence in this vital point. A single accidental discharge, even if no one is injured, could trigger the very thing guards are trying to prevent. Violence, injury, and death.

Open questions.

Would it be helpful for guard members to have some uniform marking or clothing to identify them as guards? Armbands in the color of the squad, perhaps. If so, what would be easily available to all participants?

Is there any special gear that would be good for most guards to have? Large zip ties. Fire extinguishers might be useful (especially for public perception), but might be awkward to pack around. A very good idea I had not thought of. What about identifying and marking a medic or two, people trained and equipped with first aid gear? Not a bad idea, but pros will likely be on hand as well.

Mobile squads in vehicles? Any need for that? We have found mobile scouting to be very useful.

[Publisher’s Note: This article was written by Gary Marbut and originally published at AmmoLand. Re-published by permission]


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