Since 31 people were killed and many more injured in separate mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last weekend, several scares have led to brief panics and police responses in American cities.
Just days after the massacre at an El Paso Walmart, two men arguing at a Louisiana Walmart pulled guns on each other, setting off a stampede of customers, some of whom thought there had been a shooting.
Police in Springfield, Missouri, arrested 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko on a complaint of making a terroristic threat after he walked into a Walmart Neighborhood Market wearing body armor and carrying a “tactical rifle” with ammunition on Thursday.
Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association — or OK2A — said Andreychenko’s arrest is an example of plain bad judgment.
“My advice to any person is: ‘You don’t need to be carrying a long gun that looks like the super scary stuff,’” Spencer said. “Just carry something underneath your coat or your shirt like we’ve done for years to defend yourself. Don’t make it look like you’re going on offense.”
The Springfield News-Leader reported that shoppers fled the building as Andreychenko walked around pushing a shopping cart and recording video on his phone while armed.
Some gun advocates known as Second Amendment “auditors” video their experiences walking around in public places while armed. The idea, as attempted in an incident in which Broken Arrow police deployed pepper balls at a man in a public park, is to test and document the public’s and law enforcement’s reactions to people openly carrying guns.
“This was a reckless act designed to scare people, disrupt our business, and it put our associates and customers at risk,” Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins said in a statement.
An armed off-duty firefighter reportedly held Andreychenko at gunpoint outside the store until police arrived.
Spencer said that with tensions and fears so high in the mass shootings’ aftermath, Andreychenko could have been killed not only by police but by any armed civilian who considered him a threat.
Since January 2017, Missouri has not required a permit for open or concealed carry for those 19 or older.
Oklahoma law says anyone carrying weapons openly, which will be legal without a permit for all firearms Nov. 1, must put the weapon in their hands only for self-defense. Otherwise, it’s considered brandishing a firearm and, likewise, an offensive action.
Although Spencer said he still thinks Oklahomans, as people in other states, will become conditioned to responsible open carry, he wants all gun owners to be courteous and aware of their environment.
“As peaceful, law-abiding gun owners, we have to be sensitive to the situations that have taken place around us,” he said. “Even though we may feel comfortable carrying a gun visually and even in a passive position, others may not realize that’s what is taking place.”