After incidents including the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart that left 22 people dead and many more injured, the large supermarket chain rolled back some of their gun policies, which included them stopping selling handguns and “respectfully asking” gun owners to not carry their weapons in the chain’s stores. Now, it’s emerged that members of a “gun rights” advocacy group called Open Carry Texas have been intentionally carrying their weapons into Walmart stores in the time sense as a way to “test” the request, in the words of the group’s Vice President David Amad. In other words, these people — a full 38,000 or so of them, allegedly — get excited in life by shoving their guns (only barely metaphorically) in the faces of Walmart employees just trying to do their jobs and shoppers just trying to buy their bread and other basics.
Amad claimed that none of the supposedly large number of members of his group who’d carried their weapons into Walmart stores had been asked to leave. Presumably, considering the context here, most to all of them kept their weapons visible, thereby trying to lord some kind of macho power over the men, women, and children just trying to safely get their groceries.
Amad told The New York Times, discussing Walmart’s response (or rather, lack thereof) to his group’s dangerous antics:
‘They are ducking the issue. They are trying to get the gun haters to leave them alone, while at the same time leave us alone when we carry in their stores.’
According to Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez, employees have been instructed “not to obstruct peaceful shoppers from openly carrying guns in the stores, although they added that:
‘[I]f an employee or customer feels unsafe, the store workers should call law enforcement.’
Although Lopez said he was unaware of any kind of spike in gun-related confrontations or even just open carry of firearms within Walmart stores in the time since their most recent gun policy change, there’s already been at least one high-profile incident of a gun-related confrontation in a Walmart store in which authorities got involved. In August, shortly after the El Paso Walmart incident, Dmitriy Andreychenko marched into a Missouri Walmart with a handgun, rifle, and body armor, and began filming his walk through the store. He ended up charged with making a terroristic threat after panic swept through the store. He claimed — like Amad — that his actions were a “social experiment” and designed to test whether Walmart “honored the Second Amendment.”
Technically, it would be legal for a chain like Walmart to completely ban guns from their stores — Costco does already. University of California law professor Adam Winkler noted to The Times:
‘It’s a private property. A retailer can refuse service to anyone so long as it is not on the basis of race, religion or another protected group. That does not apply to gun owners.’
Still, like Andreychenko and Amad, more and more gun owners are likely to take it as a personal insult or whatever if stores attempt to curb violence or even the threat of violence represented by a proliferation of firearms in their facilities. The National Rifle Association (NRA) isn’t exactly known for being subtle.
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