The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Weapons Instructor for Police Threatens to ‘Start Killing People’

By Mark Potok on January 10, 2013 - 2:13 pm, Posted in Extremist Propaganda

The CEO of two companies that provide tactical weapons training and supplies to the military and police — and who is a former Tennessee police chief — said yesterday that if President Obama uses executive orders to ban assault rifles, “I’m going to start killing people.”

James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response and also of Tactical Response Gear Inc. of Camden, Tenn., made the statement as part of a furious, one-minute rant posted yesterday to YouTube. Today, after Yeager apparently thought better of his death threats, the video was pulled down. Hatewatch captured it, however, and it can be viewed here.

Staring into the camera and showing biceps tattooed with numerous spent shell casings, Yeager said that he’d learned that Vice President Joe Biden had asked Obama to bypass Congress and use executive powers to ban assault rifles and impose other gun control measures. And then he let loose.

“Fuck that,” he said. “I’m telling you that if that happens, it’s going to spark a civil war, and I’ll be glad to fire the first shot. I’m not putting up with it, you shouldn’t put up with it, and I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you’re going to do. Load your damn mags, make sure your rifle’s clean, pack a backpack with some food in it, and get ready to fight.

“I’m not fucking putting up with this, I am not letting my country be ruled by a dictator, I am not letting anybody take my guns,” he said, his voice rising. “If this goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.”

In his company biography at the website for Tactical Response, Yeager said that he was a patrolman, K-9 handler and, ultimately, police chief of the Big Sandy, Tenn., Police Department in the 1990s. He also was a deputy sheriff with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. In 2002, he says, he went into private-sector tactical weapons training full time, even while serving as the firearms and tactics instructor for the Camden Police Department. He says he worked as a civilian working in protective security in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.

Yeager said he had been featured in numerous publications, including being on the cover of S.W.A.T. Magazine,  Kiplinger’s financial magazine and other publications. He also says he has written for a variety of gun magazines and been featured on TV shows including the Discovery Channel’s “One Man Army” and National Geographic’s “Snipers Inc.”

“I have taught multiple classes all over the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Central America and South America,” Yeager wrote. “I have extensive experience teaching in austere environments and I am a certified witness for firearms, tactical training and use of force.”

And that is precisely what is so scary about James Yeager.

  • John

    A man is nothing if he doesn’t back his word. I think James will back his word.

  • Gary

    If the SPLC was around in 1775 i bet they’d be calling Washington and the other leaders of our revolution terrorists and hate mongrels.

  • Dave M

    Nice try…

    Dana Eugene Creasy said,
    on January 10th, 2013 at 5:17 pm
    “I have to say that as a former law enforcement officer, I am appalled by the ratcheting up of rhetoric since Newtown…

    … I resigned my life membership in 1982 when the NRA came out in support of private ownership of teflon-coated (“cop killer”) bullets and remember the rhetoric of then Executive Director of the NRA-ILA (now NRA Executive VP) Wayne LaPierre. ”

    The so-called “cop killer bullet is a myth. The teflon coating used on the KTW bullets and later the lubalox coating on the so-called “black talon” bullets were nothing more than protection against barrel wear and fouling in the barrel. PLEASE educate yourself before making statements that expose your LACK of knowledge on the subject.

  • Brant

    My personal feelings about this issue aside, isn’t this story a bit outside the bounds of what the SPLC was created to do? He doesn’t seem to be a racist or a bigot, and until the recent debates concerning the 2nd amendment, he was completely off everyone’s radar. Sounds to me like he’s more of a hothead concerned with his job security. (I’m not defending or agreeing with him, I’m just pointing out that generally the SPLC has done a great job of dealing with hatred and racist issues without politicizing them.)

  • UnkL Foddy

    Gee, and there’s an active Klan chapter in the little town where he runs his business. And it’s the town where the national KKK organization incorporated as a nonprofit. Wonder who his customers are?

  • Kiwiwriter

    This guy is terrifyingly scary and paranoid.

    But I’m reminded of a comment that Reagan’s last chief of staff, Ken Duberstein, made to Senator McCain in 2007, when McCain was first running for president: “I told John the right wing never wants to be satisfied; they’re professional whiners. They are never really happy.”

    I think that’s true.

  • Paul

    I’ll bet Mr. Yeager secretly really, really likes show tunes…

  • Mitch Beales

    Kevin M. people are the government. People reelected the President. You and Yeager are part of a paranoid fringe group. You delude yourself into thinking you are a majority or even a substantial minority at your peril.

  • Reynardine

    Erika, let us follow the legal reasoning of people like Kevin and perhaps Myassis. The other amendments give “special rights” to n***, queers, Commies, wimmins, icky brown people, Godless atheists, Mooslins, Joos, tree-huggers, and all kinds who aren’t ril Chrischun he-man uhMerikuns. The Second, on the other hand, gives them the “natural” right to shoot those folks.

  • Eric Anderson

    Embarrassing. As a law enforcement professional, I find his comments distasteful, out of line, and well outside of the scope of someone committed to upholding law and order and protecting the citizens he or she serves. He certainly will receive NONE of my business, ever.

  • Erika

    Anyone still question why we call these people gun nuts? Or question the connection between gun ownership and male insecurity syndrome?

    On to responses to comments:

    t. delbeck, your use of the Germanic spelling Amerika reflects clear anti-Erika sentiments and is duely noted. Its not cute, its not clever, and i automatically place anyone who uses it in the “comments have no merit” category.

    Dana, wonderful comment – thank you for posting the actual FBI statistics and thank you for reminding us that there are many good people who work in law enforcement :)

    Myassis, what Constitutional rights has this guy exactly lost? He probably has an entire arsenal of weapons and he can post whatever fool notion he wants online. In fact, its safe to say given his background that Yeager cares very little for the erosion of the Fourth Amendment which is where most of the damage has been done by the “drug war” and right wing judges. The Fifth and Sixth Amendment also has taken some real hits. The Fourteenth Amdnment has seen a whole lot of erosion. Post conviction Habeas Corpus is almost dead. The Ninth Amendment has been essentially read out of the Constitution. The First Amendment – especially the Establishment Clause is under seige by the Christian right who views the Free Exercise Clause as only applying to Christians – and Free Speech and Free Press are not doing much better. Then you have the transformation of the 11th Amendment from a shield to protect states from one very specific type of law suit into a sword to go after all sorts of laws protecting people.

    Quite simply, where was this guy during the Bush Administration when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were doing all sorts of at best questionable things using executive authority (many of which were extremely unconstitutional according to someone as right wing as Justice Scalia who is hardly a friend to liberty)? Or during the Reagan Administration when the Drug War which has been so damaging to civil liberties started – and locking up probably millions of people and saddling them with felony convictions for little effect other than damaging civil liberties.

    When someone remains silent on all sorts of assaults on Constitutional rights and only speaks up over guns – it makes one’s care for rights be at best highly suspect. In fact, it makes one sound like a total gun nut – especially since they would still be able to keep their guns. They just wouldn’t be able to buy new ones – unless you comply with heavy restrictions.

    And for the person who tries to claim that executive orders are unconstitutional – try actually reading the Constitution. In fact, there is a very good reason why the Constitution allows executive orders – especially in 1787, it would be difficult to quickly convey Congress to pass emergency actions – executive orders enable the government to act (with appropriate judicial review of course)

  • pg

    Even within the “firearms enthusiast” subculture, James Yeager is viewed as a nutbar.

    He’s always running his mouth. When people called him out on the Internet he offered to fly people to Tennessee (or wherever) where it was heavily implied that he would break their backs. He even went so far as to have a dueling contract drawn up (lol).

    People go to his school because he has good instructors but the man himself is broadly considered to be a joke.

  • Kevin M

    James Yeager put into words what many people are thinking. Continued restriction of gun ownership does nothing to prevent crime. Though it does leave honest citizens vulnerable to attacks by others. Our Declaration of Independence calls for the exact action Yeager described, albeit in milder terms. A lot of us feel that we have suffered, as Jefferson wrote, “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism…” So does not the most sacred document in the land proclaim, “… it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” ?

    People are angry. People have had enough of a government that at every turn intrudes on our lives, spends our money unwisely and appears more than willing to infringe on our freedom. He’s just had enough. He made no direct threat. Provocative, yes. Rising to the level of a crime. I don’t think so.

  • Christian Favre

    Imagine if a Muslim made public threats like this, he would immediately be arrested and interrogated. Or imagine if someone said something like this in an airport. Why isn’t this paranoid illiterate being questioned?

  • Chris

    Obviously he is a creep, parroting the creepy ignorant rhetoric of the fringe right. However, I hate to see policemen disparaged as a whole. We need good police, and most of them are good people, doing a dangerous job. Insulting police does not do our cause any favors.

  • Myassis Dragin

    The government of this country is probably the world’s largest dealer of guns, ammunition, bombs, and various weapons of death.
    How can there be surprise that many of their citizens are also supporters of weapons and their usage?
    Do none of you see the connection here?

    When the US government ends their support of, and sale of, and maintenance of, said weapons of death, THEN they have a right to begin questioning our citizens’ constitutional right to keep guns.
    Otherwise it’s hypocrisy.

    I can understand Mr. Yeager’s being upset; our ‘leaders’ and government have been stripping away our constitutional rights for many years now, and not doing the jobs they were elected to do.
    His rant does himself no favors.
    However, I do believe that, given his position within the business community, he is well trained in the use of his weapons, and that he is able to exercise good judgement with a gun in his hands.
    It’s his tongue he has trouble with.

  • Dana Eugene Creasy

    I have to say that as a former law enforcement officer, I am appalled by the ratcheting up of rhetoric since Newtown. Today, we have a two-year-old child shot twice in Brooklyn – in his father’s arms – and a high school shooting in California. Then we have nuts like this and Ted Nugent running around loose.

    I resigned my life membership in 1982 when the NRA came out in support of private ownership of teflon-coated (“cop killer”) bullets and remember the rhetoric of then Executive Director of the NRA-ILA (now NRA Executive VP) Wayne LaPierre.

    One of the few instances I agreed with former President George H.W. Bush was when he, too, resigned his life membership in the NRA in the wake of LaPierre’s off-the-wall criticism of federal agents as “jack booted Nazis” after the Oklahoma City bombing. Former President Richard Nixon, not exactly a bullwark supporter of free expression, also declined his “honorary” life membership.

    And today, we hear yet more unbalanced rhetoric about FBI statistics claiming that hammers kill more people than long guns (rifles and shotguns).

    Having been a police officer for many years and also responsible for filing the Uniform Crime Reports for the FBI statistical analysis for two departments, I can tell you that the data does NOT drill down to the level of hammers. And regardless, even accounting for the categories other than firearms that are included – every other weapons and hands, fists, feet, etc. – they are greatly exceeded by firearms and knives or cutting instruments, and within the firearms category, handguns are outnumber long guns. This is the table for 2011 summarizing data on homicides by state and type of weapon:

    In 18 years of either assisting with data gathering or doing reports, I never encountered a place on the forms or the newer, computer-filing system to list “hammer.”

    And perhaps the most important news of the day deals with the focus of this article. The State of Tennessee negates his claims and also asserts his firm is NOT licensed in Tenneessee. When the media contacted them for comment, they hung up.

    Oh, and for the record, after law enforcement, I spent 20 years as a journalist including some years working on the network level in New York. I left to help with the campaign for my good friend Edward G. Rendell, when he ran for governor of my native Pennsylvania. I grew up in a liberal, Democratic family and was strongly raised to support the downtrodden and stand up for the weak among us, which is why I became a cop, along with all the others in my family.

    Thank God we’re not all nuts or skinheads… perhaps there’s still hope yet.

  • Mitch Beales

    Dusty: from Wikipedia “terrorist – A person, group, or organization that uses violent action, or the threat of violent action, to further political goals”

    The threat of violence makes him a terrorist.

  • Dan

    Dey Dook Are Guns.(South park reference). Freekin’ Idiots. and why hasn’t he been arrested yet???? or have a psychiatric evaluation????

  • siri

    I thought a threat like this was against the law? Considered a terrorist threat?

  • Dusty

    Not a lunatic, not a terrorist, not a good choice of words but he did say “if”. I do agree with the ‘spirit’ of his comment(s). This is illegal and unconstitutional as far as passing sweeping “reform” through the Executive OR Legislative action … “… SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

  • CM

    For anyone who might have been wondering about the preponderance of military and crime programs on the National Geographic Channel, the answer is that it’s 70 percent owned by News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s evil empire. Another way of keeping everyone’s fear and loathing level high.

  • Rob

    A cop with a violent streak? Hard to believe… /sarcasm

  • Dauger

    I assume SPLC has forwarded this video to the Department of Homeland Security and other appropriate law enforcement agencies.

  • Sam Molloy

    I would call those comments an illegal “Terroristic Threat” by any rational standards. The NRA should immediately very publicly revoke his membership, assuming he has one, and solidly stand on the side of the millions of responsible gun owners who are not childish wankers.

  • Rebecca

    It is virtually impossible to have a civil dialogue about this gun issue if everyone is being irrational and angry to the point of hysterics. Where have all the so-called ADULTS gone to in our society that has left us all with a bunch of juvenile playground bullies?? We should ALL be ashamed of these behaviors on both sides. Disrespecting victims of gun deaths by arguing, bullying and yelling angry rants like this is NOT ACCEPTABLE. I am FED UP with this disgusting behavior and I DEMAND that it be STOPPED!!!

  • Garret

    Take his guns away. And he shouldn’t be working for any branch of government. He is mentally ill, and threatening violence. I take him quite seriously. Take his guns away. He has forfeited the right to own guns.

  • Ryc Williamson

    Perhaps, Sir, you could list some names so that one could be prepared for an immanent death; or would this shootings be random and chaotic acts of terror?
    Your public reply would be appreciated.
    Ryc Williamson

  • aadila

    Well it won’t be difficult for any prosecutor to establish intent if he goes through with it.

    For what it is worth I am convinced that many of the abuses of authority by police in this country stem from non-police/ex-police instructors at community colleges etc., who instill the idea that past practice is best practice; i.e. notions of reasonable use of force.

    Specifically I refer to one such professor on use of force who publicly stated it was justified for half a dozen police to kick and stomp an unarmed minor repeatedly when he was on the ground, already detained, and attempting to comply with police orders.

  • James L. Dannemiller

    It seems to me that if someone makes a public threat to kill people with a gun and incites others to do the same for political reasons, we should take that threat seriously and treat that person as a domestic terrorist. As such, that should disqualify them from possessing guns and ammunition and from flying on domestic or international airlines. Free speech does not give a person the right to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater. This crosses the line from free speech into incitement of murder. When will we finally start taking these threats seriously and taking steps to prevent the violence?

  • Reynardine

    To us, Second Amendment rights mean the right to defend ourselves in our premises, shoot for the pot, compete in matches, run off varmints, and maybe put down a suffering animal. To people like these, their Second Amendment rights mean their right to commit insurrection, their right to secede, their right to assassinate “tyrants” (any elected official they didn’t vote for who has a funny name, a funny faith, a dark skin, a philosophy they don’t agree with, muliebria, or some combination of the foregoing), and their right to silence “traitors” (whoever doesn’t agree with them).

  • Beth

    Can’t he be arrested for this? Or at least called in for questioning? It’s inflammatory hate speech that comes close to threatening our president.

  • TMH Thorn

    These are the words of a real terrorist. The threats issued by Yeager make him an imminent danger to society. He ought never to be allowed again to touch any lethal weapon.

  • t. delbeck

    Livin’ in Amerika is beginnin’ to seriously feel like I’m livin’ in an asylum.

  • Tom

    Amazing really. Simply, amazing. These people are certifiably insane.

  • Jeffrey Konen

    Two quick comments:

    1. Can you get comment from the US Government and State Police that use his company services. I think that those agencies might be reluctant to continue using them, if they were to be tied to him/his company. Just a strategic thought.

    2. The logic of nationalism is tied to the expression of racism. Be cautious of ‘patriots’ claims that they are somehow doing ‘the honorable’ when it comes to ‘defending’ the nation. Their nation is always tied to human sacrifice.

  • M Chatham

    I would be interested to know how many people this man shot during his career as a police officer?

  • Bruce D. Bertolino

    Thank you SPLC. For being true Patriots and for having our backs. This man needs his FOID card revoked and banned from owning weapons. Let him start his civil war with his slingshot.