Why the change? In part, because of so-called “activists” open carrying long guns in public spaces in order to “increase public awareness.”
They increased public awareness, alright. The open-carrier at the Springfield, Missouri Walmart made national news just five days after the massacre at a Walmart in El Paso. In an interview following his arrest, Dmitriy Andreychenko admitted that “It was foolish. I didn’t give it thought.”
Openly carrying handguns has happened since pretty much before the nation’s founding with generally little in the way of issue. In today’s world though, some want to push the envelope by open-carrying long guns.
These people scare everyday Americans who are unaccustomed to seeing such hardware toted in the aisles of their neighborhood Kroger, Walmart or Starbucks. Oftentimes, those carrying long guns also have tactical pouches, making themselves better kitted out for a workday in Kabul than running errands in America. And Mr. Andreychenko hit the grand-slam in checking all of the above boxes during his stunt.
More often than not, these rifle-toting open-carriers are less interested in increasing awareness than in provoking a confrontation. Take the guy in an Edmond, Oklahoma park. Or countless others, captured on YouTube, trying to achieve their fifteen seconds of fame.
Their actions may comply with the letter of the law. But just because “there’s no law against it” doesn’t mean one should endeavor to motivate legislators to “fix” that. When one scares everyday fellow Americans, politicians sometimes act. Open carriers precipitated just this in California a few short years ago, slinging unloaded long guns as part of their activism. The Californian legislature then banned the practice in 2012.
That’s effectively what Andreychenko did in Springfield. His stunt eclipsed all of the other open-carry incidents by a wide margin, and brought about negative repercussions for the rest of America’s gun owners.
Even the mainstream leftists now publicly recognize Andreychenko’s contribution to their efforts to enact more gun control upon the rest of us.
A macho open-carry gun-rights zealot in Missouri has struck a powerful blow against the guns-everywhere-make-us-safer movement. https://t.co/5oXnoUhLCB
— Slate (@Slate) September 8, 2019
From Slate Magazine:
The Guy Who Open-Carried an Assault Rifle Into Walmart After El Paso Is America’s Best Gun Control Activist
On Aug. 3, a 21-year-old Texas man shot 46 people in an El Paso Walmart with a semi-automatic rifle, killing 22 of them. On Aug. 8, a 20-year-old man wearing body armor and carrying a semi-automatic rifle entered a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, in what police say he intended as a “social experiment” to see if the store would honor the state’s open-carry law in the wake of the El Paso killings.
The experiment got results. After shoppers panicked and a store employee pulled a fire alarm to trigger an evacuation, the man—his name is Dmitriy Andreychenko—was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat; prosecutors argue that he recklessly disregarded the possibility that his actions would cause dangerous chaos. If you’ve been following the rise of politically motivated “tactical” open-carry culture in the last six or so years, what happened next was surprising: Walmart—and a number of its competitors, like Kroger, Wegmans, CVS, and Walgreens—have announced that they are “requesting” or “asking” customers not to display firearms in their stores even in states where the practice is legal.
As private entities, the stores have the right to set rules for their property. Walmart says it will take a “a very non-confrontational approach” to enforcing its request, but gun proliferation is a cultural issue as well as a legal one, which is why certain gun enthusiasts have been so eager to make a public show of openly carrying—and why the company’s move, however non-confrontational, carries weight. Gun activists’ goal has been to make ordinary citizens accept the presence of people who could kill at any moment—to deliver the message that visibly armed citizens ought to be part of everyday life, to express the power of the gun-rights movement, and to convey the idea that arming oneself, rather than collectively disarming society, is the proper response to feeling unsafe…
None of their efforts, though, have been as instantly effective as Andreychenko’s stunt in making the point that wearing military protective gear and carrying a semi-automatic weapon should perhaps not be considered an acceptable way to behave, during peacetime, around people who are shopping for paper towels.
When your political enemies cite you as their best activist, maybe you’re doing something wrong.