Open Carry is Different than Threatening People With a Gun

It’s time once again for some open carry drama. This time it’s being brought to use by the police of Gulfport, Mississippi. An individual of that town went into the local Wal-Mart with a shotgun and was racking shells into the chamber to intimidate shoppers. The local Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team arrived on the scene but opted not to arrest the individual. Their reason? Open carry laws:

The police chief of Gulfport, Mississippi, expressed his frustration with his state’s open carry laws after a man strolling through a Walmart Sunday night menaced shoppers by loading and racking shells into his shotgun, causing police to dispatch a SWAT team and evacuate the store.

According to Police Chief Leonard Papania, he would have arrested the unidentified man and his companion if he could for stretching the city’s police forces thin while panicked Walmart employees huddled in a safe room, WMC reported.


Using surveillance video police were able to track the men down and speak with them, but due to Mississippi’s open carry laws, the chief said his hands were tied after conferring with city attorneys.

“In our nation there continues to be violent events. Many of these tragic events start to unfold with very similar circumstances where individuals exhibit peculiar actions with firearms around large crowds,” he explained. “The actions of these two men could have inadvertently led to a very violent misunderstanding.”

Bullshit. His hands were not tied. There are numerous laws on the books that would have allowed him to arrest the individual. Terroristic threats and brandishing being two of them that come to mind immediately. Walking around a store racking shells into the chamber of a shotgun qualifies as threatening behavior and threatening behavior is illegal under many statutes.

A very obvious line exists between openly carrying a firearm and threatening people with it. Walking around with a holstered handgun or a slug long arm is nothing more than openly carrying a firearm and isn’t threatening in any way. Unholstering a handgun or unslinging a long arm and manipulating the controls in public without a present threat is an act reasonable people can assume to be threatening. I certainly would. And that’s what brandishing is, waving a weapon around in a threatening manner.

What this looks like to me is the police or city attorneys (or both) purposely making a bad situation because they are unhappy that open carry is legal. It wouldn’t be the first time law enforcement or government attorneys purposely made a bad situation by refusing to do their supposed jobs just to create public support for passing a new restriction.