Texas Man Arrested For Carrying AR-15 Around Mall Could Hurt Greg Abbott's Push For Open Carry

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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.


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.


  1. ScalesOnYourEyes on

    I thought this was a Texas politics site. Irresponsible gun ownership? No one with a CHL is going to be afraid of a guy running around with a gun slang around his back – anyone who has taken a class, or has common sense, knows there's nothing irresponsible about carrying the weapon that way.

    There's nothing “alarming” about a guy going about his business with a gun on his back and his hands full of everyday items. Ever watch a western movie, pre-news-propaganda era? The poor people who “felt they were going to die” are the ones that sit around bombarded by the news all day with stories about 120lb autistic children who hate loud noises shooting up a school with 5 different types of “assault-style weapons” killing 30 people in 6 minutes with 150 rounds, 3-11 rounds in each victim.

    The mexican-stand-off argument is ridiculous also. Please reference where this phenomena is occurring. If you want to use the “possibility” of this non-occurrence happening to justify a reason against open-carry, Poe can equally use the possibility of violence, or even the non-occurrence of any violence occurring in the mall that day to justify his open-carry.

    On a side, how do you suggest he conceal his AR-15?

  2. Meh
    It does beg the question which I posed “what was he afraid of?”

    If you think this helps spread the acceptance of open carry then join him but I bet you are wrong. Let's see if he does it again.

    • ScalesOnYourEyes on

      Obviously he's afraid of all these mass shooters out there – the same people that have the others afraid at the site of the gun. Having his AR concealed in the car, or at home, or the range doesn't help him if he needs it at the mall. What if THIS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W… had occurred?

      Open carry doesn't have to have its acceptance “spread.” It's not illegal because there has been no reason for it to be made illegal. He's exercising his “right” to carry it.

      And yes, having a clip in the gun is necessary. That's how it is able to shoot when needed. Bad guy isn't going to wait for you to load your clip.

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