In light of the recent shootings of five Marines in Chattanooga, there has been a lot of discussion in the media about whether or not flags should be flown at half-staff to honor the slain servicemen.

Honestly, I hadn't given the matter any thought until a listener called to comment on the fact that the flag at the V.A. Hospital in Grand Junction was not at half-staff.

It did get me to thinking and wondering what exactly the protocol and precedent is in these situations.

Washington has ordered flags to fly at half-staff following shootings at Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, the Aurora theater, and Sandy Hook, to name a few. In other instances, it has been left up to individual states to decide.

Following the shootings in Tennessee, the governors of several states issued half-staff proclamations including Tennessee, as well as Massachusetts and Arkansas, the home states of two of the Marines killed.

There have been a number of occasions in the last couple of years when Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has ordered the flags dropped to half-staff to honor slain police officers, military servicemen, as well as civilians like Claire Davis, an Arapahoe High School Student.

According to, only the President or Governor has the authority to order flags at flown at half-staff, however, private citizens and non-government buildings are free to drop the flag to honor local leaders and heroes. The government does not have to authorize the private sector to use the flag to honor a citizen, but government buildings are required to follow the Flag Code.

So, getting back to the question of flying the flag at half-staff to honor the servicemen killed in Chattanooga. Even though the President nor the Governor issued a half-staff order non-government buildings are free to fly the flags at half-staff if they so desire. Nothing prevents them from doing that if they so desire.

We pose the question to you. Should a half-staff proclamation been issued? Should we drop the flags anyway?  We want to know what you think.