What is it with guns and Walmart? The two have dovetailed in recent headlines, with varying degrees of consequence, since the terrifying and deadly incident in an El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3 that took the lives of 22 people and left 24 seriously wounded.
In Wilkesboro on Aug. 10, Jimmy Roger Minton, 29, threatened a police officer with a pellet pistol in a sporting goods store. He then retreated to the Walmart on U.S. 421, where he was arrested. Minton “said he has seen what had happened at the recent shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH, and wanted to go to Dunham’s and Walmart to kill a bunch of people,” the police report said. He has been charged with two counts of felonious assault with a deadly weapon against a government employee, six counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon and two felony counts of terrorism, among other charges. Fortunately, no one was harmed.
The day before in Springfield, Mo., Dmitriy Andreychenko, 20, donned body armor and carried a loaded rifle and handgun into a Walmart to test whether the store would honor his constitutional right to bear arms. Though Andreychenko didn’t point either weapon at anyone, customers fled. And instead of being “honored,” Andreychenko was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat in the second degree.
The Associated Press reported: “His wife, Angelice Andreychenko, told investigators that she warned him it was not a good idea, adding that he was an immature boy.” Smart woman.
Meanwhile, Walmart, which stopped selling assault rifles in 2015 and raised its minimum gun purchasing age to 21 last year, is facing calls on social media to stop selling firearms entirely. Walmart employees in California, New York and Oregon participated in an employee walkout on Aug. 7 to protest the company’s continued sale of firearms. Last week, the retail giant’s chief executive officer expressed support for stronger background checks and said that the chain was still considering possible changes. He called on Congress to debate an assault weapons ban.
Andreychenko isn’t the only one “testing the limits” of his Second Amendment rights by carrying firearms in public. Groups like OpenCarry.org have organized “open carry walks” on college campuses and in other public places for several years. This often leads to a police presence to reassure the public that they are safe. Somehow the open carry activists don’t accomplish that goal on their own.
The problem with “good guys” carrying guns openly is that there’s no way for bystanders or police to immediately recognize the difference between them and “bad guys.” Given the threat of gun violence, the public can’t be expected to accept the casual and random presence of firearms as normal.
Responsible gun owners want their Second Amendment rights to be respected. But with public pressure for commonsense background checks and other sensible provisions are reasonable overdue. But they may have to come in spite of, rather than because of President Donald Trump, who is softening his previous calls for stricter gun measures after being lobbied by the NRA.
Gun owners hurt their own case by grandstanding — in Walmart or anywhere else.