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

DHS Reportedly Investigating Tennessee Weapons Instructor

By Bill Morlin on January 11, 2013 - 2:03 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime, Extremist Propaganda

Editor’s Update: The Tennessee Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security Friday suspended the handgun carry permit of James Yeager, who earlier threatened to “start killing people” if gun control advanced, according to WTVF-TV in Nashville. Commissioner Bill Gibbons said Yeager’s comments were “irresponsible, dangerous and deserved our immediate attention.” Department officials said that they had not certified Yeager or his Tactical Response school as instructors.

The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly investigating threats made this week by a Tennessee businessman — the same private security contractor who was at the center of a controversial shootout while working as a mercenary during the Iraq War.

James Yeager, who owns Tactical Response and Tactical Response Gear Inc., based in Camden, Tenn., said on a YouTube video posted Wednesday that if President Obama uses executive orders to ban assault rifles, “I’m going to start killing people.” Yeager’s firm provides training and equipment to police and military units, as well as the private sector, according to his website.

The video was removed yesterday but in a new one, Yeager said he wasn’t retracting anything, though he did concede that his earlier statements “probably allowed my mouth to overrun my logic.”

Yeager makes several claims about his law enforcement credentials, but two Tennessee sheriffs contacted today by Hatewatch say they believe those claims are exaggerated. Yeager didn’t return calls seeking comment from him about the growing controversy he finds himself in.

Yeager has claimed publicly, including in other YouTube videos, that his illustrious law enforcement career included jobs as a police chief for the town of Big Sandy, Tenn., and, later, as a sheriff’s deputy in Benton County, Tenn.

What he doesn’t say is that he was fired from both those jobs.

“He was let go for various reasons,” Big Sandy city recorder Debbie Wright told Hatewatch today. “He was a little bit more than we need in a police chief.”

Yeager was fired as chief of the two-person police department because, in part, he butted heads with the then-mayor, Wright said. “Well, James had some grandiose ideas. He wanted more patrolmen, more equipment than what our little community of 518 people could afford.”

Yeager also was fired in 2002 after working one year as a deputy in Benton County when Cecil Wells was elected sheriff, the current sheriff, Tony King, told Hatewatch today.

Homeland Security’s interest in Yeager now apparently centers on whether his public death threats constitutes criminal conduct or threats to the president.

“I just got off the phone with the people from Homeland Security, asking me about this guy,” King told Hatewatch. “It appears that there are several agencies looking at the video to see if there’s criminal intent there or it’s just somebody exercising their First Amendment rights.”

King said he’s acquainted with Yeager and his business, “but I don’t know him real well. He’s in the business of what I call training mercenaries, private security,” the Benton County sheriff said of Yeager. “But I’ve got to tell you, he hasn’t caused me any problems at all.”

King said he was shocked by Yeager’s statements. “I’m pro-gun, but I also know we’ve got a problem,” the sheriff told Hatewatch.

The Benton County sheriff said he’s unaware of any sheriff’s or police departments in Tennessee who’ve sent their officers to Tactical Response for training. Years ago, he said, some Benton County deputies in their off-duty time took a first aid course for “first responders.” King said, “I don’t know, quite frankly, what they got out of it. The course was free, and on the deputies’ own time.”

Dalya Qualls, the public information officer for the Department of Homeland Security in Nashville, didn’t immediate respond to a request for comment about the agency’s investigation of Yeager.

In McNairy County, Tenn., Sheriff Guy Buck said Yeager “definitely has overstated his law enforcement credentials.” (Talking Points Memo reported yesterday that Yeager claimed to be certified by the Tennesee Department of Public Safety as a firearms instructor, but said that the department said that was untrue.) Before being elected sheriff, Buck worked as a security manager for DynCorp International, a private security contractor hired to train police in Afghanistan.

Buck said Yeager worked as a security contractor for Edinburgh Risk & Security Management in Iraq, functioning as a mercenary hired to protect convoys traveling between the Bagdad Airport and the Green Zone.

“He got involved in a highly controversial shoot-out on the airport road,” the sheriff said of Yeager. “Type in his name and the word ‘coward’ on YouTube and you’ll learn all about him.”

As to Yeager’s threat to kill people, Buck said he was taken aback.

“Obviously it surprises me for anyone who claims to have the background he claims to have to say things like that. Reckless and irresponsible — both those terms seem to me to describe his actions,” the sheriff said.

“I’m the biggest 2nd Amendment advocate in the State of Tennessee,” Buck said, “but we still have to be responsible for our actions and statements.”

  • Bob

    In the Marines we were taught to engage thru the firefight to gain fire superiority. To close with and destroy the enemy. If we were in a vehicle we were to dismount take good cover, lay down suppressive fire and gain fire superiority. What the hell are they teaching you army guys? To get the hell out of there? Geez no wonder they send us the 03’s in first. I watched the whole 43 min video and Yeager was the only one smart enough to get dispersion and away from a standing target like a vehicle. In a firefight a vehicle becomes a kill zone. That’s. what the enemy will put most of there fire on. All you haters are arm chair quarterbacks who have never served a min in real combat.

  • Bravo Delta Kilo

    The responses to this article really show what a weak, spineless, brainwashed populace the liberal left really are. It’s a sad time for our country.

  • richard avirett

    I know james as well, there is a reason that with the exception of one person that no one with real experience is on his staff. It is because no one with real merit and real skill set will ever take him serious. He is barely a cop and never in the military, His time in Iraq was with a company who took anyone regardless of their background, I assure you, I have worked with the best companies and he would have never made it past recruitment. His classes are run by guys whos only experience is what he taught them and the few times I was there in those classes the students flocked to my knowledge and answers leaving his proctors pouting and angry. His inflated resume as well as inflated ego has served him well to the ignorant civilian, who has no clue, but to the professional shooters, he is a pathetic liar who is worse than the guy wearing a navy seal shirt but has never even been in the military.

  • Georges T

    I worked in Iraq as a security contractor and was friends with James Hunt who was killed in the ERSM ambush on route IRISH. It is always easy to point the finger and lay the blame and find a scapegoat. I believe the issue surrounding the incident steems from the fact that the party in question placed the vehicle in netural and engaged the parking brake. When the contact happened he forgot that he had engaged the handbrake and the vehicle would not move. Below is part of an After Action Review written by the individual in question;
    “After about 10-15 minutes I took the car out of gear and pulled on the emergency break
    because my calf was beginning to ache. I would end up regretting that decision.” Because of this the team was stuck on the “X”.

  • Andrew C

    All of you are hating on Mr. Yeager, I got news for you. Get in line. There is hordes of you keyboard warriors out there, all of you have one thing in common. You have done nothing with your lives and intend to make James’ life harder. Not gonna happen.

    Molon labe

  • james

    No dog in this fight, Yeager comes of like a tool sometimes and his resume seems exagerated-whatever.

    But as far as the ambush in Iraq.
    People really need to watch the vid.
    First to the guy who said the Army taught him to push through and breakup an ambush-Was that a close ambush or far? ’cause you need you to go back and train some more if you think you can assault through a far ambush.He did fairly well(better than the rest of his team) by getting in that ditch and laying down fire once he felt they couldn’t move. If the rest of the team had coordinated,layed down fire and bounded back instead of shuffling disabled/nearly disabled non armored vehicles into the line of fire, things might have gone a lot better.

    As far as getting off the x hard to do when starting from a dead stop and vehicles rapidly being disabled,not to mention casualty movement.

  • Aron

    The only voices of reason I listen to actually know how to write. So the preceding ‘voice’ is plum out of luck.

  • Voice of Reason

    yeh well so what, leave the guy alone, maybe if he wasn’t being threatened with losing rights, he would not react that way- that doesn’t make him a “crook or liar” and none of us buy that bs, the guy is a veteran and former police officer

  • Aron

    Hey Benjamin,

    Keep listening to Alex Jones. He’s doing wonders for your cognitive abilities.

  • Benjamin Gray

    I hope this ends the debate regarding the second amendment, especially the quote by Thomas Jefferson I leave you with. I don’t want to die for my freedom and I don’t think I should have to. I have a son that I love very much, and I want him to be free, and I want to have grandchildren and grow old with my fiance whom I also love very much. I am middle class, I am not democrat or republican, and I view both parties as crooks controlled by the banking cartels and corporations. If you come for my guns you will have to kill me unfortunately. I am not an unstoppable force, I bleed just like everyone else.

    What is the highest law of this land being the united states?
    A: The constitution.

    If you decide that you don’t like what the constitution says about the second amendment not being infringed upon?
    A: That’s too bad. It was written into law to defend us from our government, if necessary. Believe it or not.

    Is our current government tyrannical?
    A: You bet your sweet a$s it is, Google: Obama ruled unconstitutional by congress. There are plenty other instances, and I could go on all day about this subject. I will be more than willing to debate anyone on this subject.

    Do you really want me to start quoting the actual people who wrote the constitution?
    A: Your feelings might get hurt, when you find out what you think you know about the Constitution is wrong. But we all know you will never admit when you are wrong. Or will you?

    Last but not least, a quote from Thomas Jefferson, which sums up what the framers were thinking when they wrote the constitution.

    “God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion…. And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms…. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

    – Thomas Jefferson, in letter to William S. Smith, 1787

    Benjamin Gray

  • Aron

    Oh and David, your continued use of the incorrect term shows that you really don’t know the difference between slander and libel. Slander is speech. Libel consists of printed matter, such as the comments you found defamatory on all of those Internet forums.

  • Aron

    David, I never claimed to know you. And I never called you a bigot. Funny you should make that claim… Maybe I could sue you for libel?

    But back to my original point: I do not know you. But I know your personality. You are the archetypal Internet Tough Guy Mixed Martial Artist, a man who makes a living teaching young children how to kill others with their bare hands. I accused you of taking steroids based on the vociferousness of your initial responses; you seemed to protest just a BIT too much.

    Oh, and if you can find me, please feel free to come and ‘hash it out with me.’ I live with a cop, and I’m sure he would be interested to hear how the big scary man flew all the way from Knoxville just to explain how hurt he was by the Internet Man.

    No one is coming for the guns you may or may not own. Making threats against public officials is a crime. Deal with it.

  • David Vannest

    I think you need you not label those whom you politically disagree with as steroid taking bigot… You think you know me but, in fact, you do not…

  • David Vannest

    First of all Aron, to answer your question about the kids is YES, the parents know and they are twelve an up… i teach in small groups and carefully screen the kids… If children are being attacked with adult violence, they need adult defensive options (especially when most kids to not have access to guns)…Second of all, I did pay a visit to everyone who was slandering me… I did not have to resort to violence to solve those problems… We hashed it out and settled the differences… I don’t go around physically threatening people (contrary to your pathetic insinuation) . And to answer your last question, YES I do know the difference between slander and libel… Like I said, if you think my skills are so poor your more than welcome to come to Knoxville and train with me them you can decide rather than base your opinion on lies told about myself…

  • Aron

    David, a couple more things:

    First, do the parents know you are teaching their little children how to kill? Because when I took martial arts, the most important lesson was that the skills were only to be used in self-defense, not the other way around. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable sending my children to you. And I’m a firm believer in self defense.

    Second, after re-reading your latest screed, you mentioned that you made a ‘personal visit’ to anyone who has ever slandered you. First, that leads me to believe you aren’t aware of the difference between libel and slander. Second, if what you think I wrote is false, come and get me. As I said to ‘Anobserver’ earlier, I’m shaking in my little booties. You’re looking less and less like the ‘dirty grappler,’ and more and more like the ‘dirty-trousered grappler.’ Grow up and develop a thicker skin, man-child.

  • Aron

    David, I know who you are. And I know that I’ve struck a nerve. Did you you actually just threaten to sue me for libel over reporting what people have said about ‘the dirty grappler?’

    Maybe Yeager isn’t the only one who needs to cut down on his steroid intake…

  • David Vannest

    BTW, Aron ANYONE can post lies about someone on the Internet… I suggest if you want to see my resume you look at my bio on FB (The-Dirty Grappler). It’s a public page so you are free to lurk all you like… I suggest that you refrain from repeating or spreading any lies about me or my credentials or you might find yourself on the receiving end of a slander and libel lawsuit… The parties (from years ago) who previously slandered my name each received a visit personally from me… If you still question my credentials I suggest you come to Knoxville and I will be happy to give you a free lesson… The fact is this site does good work identifying racists and bigots, I’m not one of them…

  • David Vannest

    Aron, I don’t plan on taking on the federal government-period… I am not a revolutionary or looking to start an insurrection… I am however a firm believer in lethal defense options for would be victims of violent crime if they do not have access to a firearm… I believe your response is ignorant and uneducated… I have a unique skill set beyond jiu-jitsu that I share with anyone who wants to learn… I believe children are the most vulnerable and they need to be taught the skills to survive (especially when they usually do not have access to firearms)… Teaching children how to correctly use sticks, blades, improvised weapons, and any accessible object is an essential skill… They need to be taught proper anatomy of the body and where and when to inflict the greatest possible damage to someone that may harm them… Many leftists have taken issue with me calling me irresponsible for teaching children killing techniques… I believe it’s the greatest asset they can have to defend themselves… Justified maiming of killing of anyone who would attack a child is every human being’s right… The more dangerous they are, the safer they are… BTW, gun training is also important- the sooner a child learns how to properly handle and employ weapons the better… Anyone who has a problem with this is welcome to kiss my ass…

  • concernedcitizen

    It’s ridiculous that everything someone says is immediately labeled a 1st amendment right, yes they have a right to speak and if they open their mouths to announce that they are putting together an army and going to kill people or declare war then the government has a right to step in and arrest them, especially when that threat is aimed at the President.

  • concernedcitizen

    Thank you Aron, it is that type of attitude that Debora has displayed that fuels the hate groups that I observe here in the Midwest.

    They see the government as the enemy, they see minorities as the enemy, they see anybody different than them as the enemy. What they fail to realize is that all white people do not call them friends nor do they support their hate filled so called “conservative” positions. It’s just a position of hate and warmongering.

  • Aron

    David, you plan on defeating the federal government armed only with your (apparently poor, if the research I’ve seen on you is correct) knowledge of Jiu Jitsu?

    Good luck, stupid. That’s all I can say to that one.

  • David Vannest

    I support James Yeager… I have been Combatives instructor for twenty years and have numerous students from state and local law enforcement in many states (as well as members of the military)… I have decided to solely teach unarmed and improvized weapon killing techniques to my students… You cannot stop people like me who have devoted their lives to other than ballistic lethal techniques… Killing efficiently and quietly without the use of guns is becoming a lost art and I intend to arm as many civilians with this knowledge as possible and the Feds, ADL, or SPLC can’t do shit to stop me… This is an open invite to try… Arming children with this knowledge is priority number one… They cannot be victims of tyranny if they are trained… Bare hands, blunt and edge weapons cannot be banned, they do not malfunction or jam, and you can use it anywhere… A trained mind is truly the most dangerous weapon of all… Good luck keeping an eye out…

  • Aron

    No Debra, if push ever comes to shove we liberals will be running AWAY from the nutjobs like yourself and M. Yeager. Believe it or not many of us on the left actually own weapons as well, and we possess the knowledge to use them, and use them well
    We also know that the government is not the enemy, and if that turns out to not be the case, venting our spleens on public (read: MONITORED) fora is exactly the wrong approach.

    So go back to WND, because we certainly won’t miss your presence here.

  • http://none DEBORA

    OMG When the s^^^^ hits the fan a bunch of you panty wipes will be runnin to Men like him. Yea ..he is out there>>its called free speech!!! The hatewatch group>REALLY?? You are the nuts to believe in the FACIST hatewatch groups!! Get real people….we have lost America and Hatewatch speech and groups are a part of it….All I can say>> is run to them HATEWATCH groups when the Facist Government comes for ya and your weapons;)))))

  • Robert

    He’s not protecting the Constitution. The Second Amendment actually says that “a well regulated militia” is part of this right to “keep and bear arms” that everybody is so incensed about. I wonder why nobody ever connects these two, which are very clearly connected in the Constitution, in all the arguments about guns. Mr. Yeager is exactly the type of guy the Second Amendment is designed to protect against, by use of the “well regulated militia”. I think it’s time for all us law-abiding and Constitution-respecting gun owners to report to our local National Guard unit and become part of the “well regulated militia”.

  • What?

    These types of people are making threats… and considering the political climate of the country, they may be considered making “terrorist threats”. Is there any reason on earth to make these statements, other than being too damn stupid and/ or unhinged to keep your mouth shut? I hope this guy gets prosecuted. I support the 2nd amendment, but I don’t think these kinds of public statements should be taken lightly.

  • Tony Best

    SPLC; I just wanted to say thank you for the dedication and resourcefullness of your staff.
    Tony Best, Commander
    Gautier Police Reserve Unit
    Gautier Police Department
    3330 Highway 90
    Gautier, MS 39550

  • Adrian

    Anybody know anything about Sheriff Buck?

  • Brian

    times are weird when someone who is willing to shoot to kill or get shot protecting the Constitution are called extremists.

  • Tom

    I have been a police officer in New York for 23 years. I taught firearms and tactics training at the police academy for 17 of those. I spent a year in Iraq as a police trainer at the Baghdad Police College. Let me say this, I have seen so many guys like this guy over the years and it amazes me how they get into the job int the first place. Especially, when I served in Iraq and there were more of these crazies yahoos from 2 man police departments claiming all their glory. Sad, this guy makes responsible gun owners look bad. This guy should’nt have ANY weapons. He is a danger if you ask my opinion.

  • Sam Molloy

    Cthulthu, it can be found under “James Yeager, Coward”. Like I said, it is hard to tell what is going on. There are positive and negative comments. Kiwiwriter, it sounds like his permit to carry was suspended, and my sources indicate that in Tennessee, without a permit, no firearms of any kind can legally be carried in any vehicle unless they are unloaded and separate from ammunition, in plain sight or secured in a commercial gun case. No mention is made in the update of an order to turn them in.

  • Leslie

    If he were a Muslim he would be hiring a good defense lawyer or speaking with a public defender right about now.

  • concernedcitizen

    Anyone who states that they have put together a formidable Army in America deserves to be investigated and those who are affiliated with them as well.

    We have seen way too many innocent Americans being killed by idiot radicals. They do not represent the whole of America and we don’t need these people killing innocent Americans like the Sikhs and many others who have died at the hands of idiots with guns in their hands and hate in their hearts.

  • Kiwiwriter

    With that editor’s update, this story certainly falls in the “irony” department.

    He screeched about threats to his right to carry assault rifles, and instead the State — not the evil Feds — took away his right to carry handguns.

    Let’s see if this guy actually turns in his weapons, or if he backs up his big mouth by staging a standoff with the state troopers.

    Mr. Yeager must be feeling pretty dumb right now. He admitted in his second video that he doesn’t know what to do. He has no idea what the solutions are or should be.

    At least he’s discovering that using your First Amendment rights carries with it considerable responsibilities. I suspect the only Amendment he’s familiar with is the Second. Now, he’ll learn about the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, as well.

  • Bubba Smith

    It’s time for the Police State to come down had on this man and make an example out of him. We can’t have people with strong opinions just express them at will. It’s just too much freedom, regardless of what the Constitution says.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Call me a “fair-weathered 2nd Amendment gun-nut”. I still think he’s a walking time bomb waiting to explode (or implode) at any given moment. You can’t just sit back and accept his half-wit apology with sincerity. You have to take these extremists seriously. Because it seems that he is slowly losing his mind and is no longer mentally fit/stable to be around guns professionally and privately.

  • Cthulhu

    Sam, we were taught in the Army that you assault through the ambush, unless your vehicle is disabled, then you transfer to any other vehicles and GTF outta dodge unless you’re pinned down and back up is on the way.

    At the very least, you make sure the guy driving knows how to drive.

    You certainly don’t have a team member get out of his vehicle on a crowded street and start shooting into the air. Fire discipline? What fire discipline?

    I haven’t seen the vid and would like to. Have a link?

  • james

    Elaine Colw said,

    on January 11th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks SPLC Hatewatch for keeping us on top of this story. The charges should include treason. This guy is definitely fanning the flames of hatred and civil war.

    umm treason for what? speaking his mind? I don’t think so.. the persons fanning the flames reside in DC. its called our elected officials

  • Robert Pinkerton

    With friends like him, do we lawful gun-folk need enemies?

  • Sam Molloy

    I am in no way defending his online rant, but I watched the short ambush video and it’s hard to tell what is going on. Some positive comments say he ran to the ditch and laid down to start shooting back, which just showed that he was the smartest one there. Unlike in the movies, you can’t hide behind a car door, or really any part of a newer car except the engine. Are those bunny slippers on the dashboard or what?

  • Erika

    A real Sheriff: “Type in his name and the word ‘coward’ on YouTube and you’ll learn all about him.”

    me: explains a lot, doesn’t it?

    The more revealed about this guy, the more unhinged he seems.

  • Elaine Colw

    Thanks SPLC Hatewatch for keeping us on top of this story. The charges should include treason. This guy is definitely fanning the flames of hatred and civil war.


    If he were poor, or never in the military, or black, he’d already be in jail!!

  • Aron

    As I said before, he’s just another YouTube Keyboard Kommando.

    But I hope the DHS investigates the BEJESUS out of him.

    And as someone wrote elsewhere, the NRA would be wise to very publicly rescind his membership and ban him from ever joining again. But then again, I’m also fairly certain that the Motor City Moron is also a senior member of that once-illustrious group.