A gun store owner in Beaumont faces up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted of disorderly conduct after he walked through Parkdale Mall on December 28th with an AR-15 strapped to his back. The man turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest but he maintains that he did nothing “illegal.”
The man named Derek Poe was charged with Disorderly Conduct because police said he carried his weapon, “In a manner calculated to alarm.” Poe disagreed and said that he was just exercising his 2nd Amendment right. He told KBMT “It was clearly obvious I didn't have criminal intent. I had a drink in one hand and a bag in the other. I didn't commit a crime. I legally carried a long arm in Texas.”
Such displays of irresponsible gun ownership are likely to draw (no pun intended) push back against “open carry” legislation being pushed by the likes of Greg Abbott.
According to Greg Abbott,
- “An openly carried weapon is no more dangerous than one carried in a concealed manner. Indeed, it is those with bad intent who are most likely to prefer to conceal weapons on their person. Anyone wishing to use a firearm as a deterrent and, in the last resort, for self-defense, would prefer to openly display the weapon.”
Let's take these one at a time. “An openly carried weapon is no more dangerous than one carried in a concealed manner.” Yet according to the reports from Parkdale Mall multiple witnesses claimed that they were “terrified” and “thought they were going to die.” If the man had been carrying a concealed handgun, literally this would not be a story. Of course it is more dangerous if it causes panic, especially if there were a CHL holder nearby who felt threatened. Charles Cotton, president of the Texas Firearms Coalition and board member of the National Rifle Association, told the Texas Tribune, “If a criminal walks into a location and openly sees a bunch of people carrying a firearm, they are much less likely to commit that crime.” But once multiple non-uniformed individuals draw their weapons how are first responders or even other “responsible gun owners” supposed to know who the original offender is. Also would it make a difference to the injured if the bullet came from a vigilante or a perp, not likely.
Cotton also said he takes issue with open carry groups who use confrontational tactics adding, “I don't think you win anyone to your side of the issue if they're afraid of you.” I must agree because I don't think Poe earned any supporters or customers that day in Parkdale Mall. So if as Abbott contends that, “Anyone wishing to use a firearm as a deterrent and, in the last resort, for self-defense, would prefer to openly display the weapon,” then it begs the question who was Poe deterring while walking through the mall? My best guess would be other shoppers from spending their money and feeling safe.
Coincidentally an Open Carry Freedom Walk had previously been scheduled for 11 a.m. on Jan. 18 in the Gander Mountain parking lot across from Parkdale Mall.
You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.