What are the laws against scaring people with guns?

The 20-year old man who scared the daylights out of people by walking through a Walmart in Missouri wearing body armor, a bullet-proof vest, and carrying a loaded rifle and extra ammunition, all mimicking the shooter in El Paso has been arrested for ‘making terrorist threats’.

The man Dmitriy Andreychenko said that he did this to see if “Walmart honored the second amendment” and did not expect people to freak out.

He told police he did not expect the reaction his walk generated.

“This is Missouri, I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out,” he said, according to police filings.

The store manager “believed Andreychenko came to the store to shoot people”, the police statement said, and triggered the fire alarm to evacuate customers.

Mr Andreychenko was held at gunpoint by an off-duty fire fighter, who was legally carrying his own weapon, until police arrested him.

Prosecutor Dan Patterson said that while residents of Springfield, Missouri, were allowed to carry weapons, “that right does not allow an individual to act in a reckless and criminal manner endangering other citizens.”

Prosecutors have charged him with making a terrorist threat.

If found guilty, the charge could result in a four-year prison sentence and a fine of $10,000 (£8,300), Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson said in a statement.

Will that charge stick? If people are allowed to wear such items and carry such weapons, they may well argue that it is not their fault if people freak out when they see them.

Andreychenko would have been well advised to listen to the women in his life, such as his wife who thought it was a bad idea given the recent shooting in El Paso and told him that “he was just an immature boy”, and his sister who also said it was a bad idea.

Josh Marshall looked at what the law says.

Many states now allow open carry of long guns. You can carry ammunition and I don’t think there are laws against appearing in public in body armor. Indeed, there is a whole subculture of gun activists who go into big box stores and diners and other public places openly carrying long guns as a sort of pro-gun performance art.

In open carry states you can’t point the gun at someone, without provocation, or brandish it. But simply carrying it around is fine.

Texas for instance allows open carry in most circumstances. You can carry a long gun basically anywhere. According to this summary at the Giffords website Texas law prohibits doing so in a “manner calculated to alarm.” The same site says that no statutes prohibit open carrying firearms in Missouri. But it also says: “No person may exhibit any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner in the presence of one or more persons.”

In other words, you’re free to carry your AR-15 basically anywhere. It only becomes illegal when you become “angry or threatening.” Needless to say it doesn’t take long to go from having it in a sling or a shoulder strap and becoming “threatening” or for that matter going full feral dweeb at whatever location you have chosen for your killing spree..

The Giffords website linked above gives the laws for each state concerning openly carrying guns.

The US has allowed the NRA and the gun lobby such license that pretty much anything short of actually shooting someone is now legal, and even then some states that have ‘stand your ground’ laws enable people to get away even with that.


  1. Matt G says

    I’m willing to bet that most, if not all, mass shooters behave in a calm and non-threatening manner…until they don’t.

  2. raven says

    He is lucky he wasn’t shot and killed by an armed citizen, a security guard, or the police.
    Even the police who arrested him said that.

    It’s more or less impossible to tell some idiot carrying an assault rifle around as some sort of experiment from someone who is going to start shooting in the next minute.

    If someone had shot him as a suspected mass shooter wannabe, I doubt if anyone would charge or prosecute them. They could always claim self defense.

  3. bobmunck says

    What Dmitriy Andreychenko did — walk around a Walmart carrying a gun — was entirely legal and explicitly permitted by the store’s management. What the “off-duty firefighter” did — threaten Andreychenko with a gun — was illegal. Who exactly was the “good guy with a gun” here?

  4. Sam N says

    @4, obviously the firefighter who had public safety in mind, not the twerp carrying out an ‘experiment’. You are also incorrect about the firefighters actions being illegal. He will never be convicted because context matters in actions intended to defend oneself and others.

  5. jrkrideau says

    Where I live his appearance would have brought a SWAT team.

    Or if it looked even nastier, a military unit not all that friendly to terrorists. Nice guys on the whole but not fond of terrorism.

  6. Matt G says

    @4, what exactly is “good” about what Dmitriy did? Was he defending himself or others against a threat? Are Walmart store not safe? How is doing what he did less than a week after two mass shootings “good”?

  7. vucodlak says

    @ bobmunck, #4

    What the “off-duty firefighter” did — threaten Andreychenko with a gun — was illegal.

    Under Missouri’s Stand Your Ground law, the firefighter would have been well within his rights to blow this terrorist away. All that’s required for legal justification is a reasonable belief that one’s life is in jeopardy. It’s an awful law in general, but in this case I wouldn’t have blamed the firefighter one bit.

    Who exactly was the “good guy with a gun” here?

    I’m going to go with “not the terrorist.” Any reasonable adult would recognize that actions like Dmitriy Andreychenko’s would result in a lot of terrified people. He was intentionally terrorizing people. Unless, that is, he’s so disconnected from reality that he can’t understand why anyone would find his little LARP session upsetting, in which case he shouldn’t be permitted to handle anything more dangerous than a butter knife around other living beings.

    The firefighter made the best decision he could with the information he had. He controlled an armed terrorist with minimum force.

  8. bobmunck says

    @Sam N, jrkrideau, Matt G, vucodlak #(5:8)
    Andreychenko says that he was checking if Walmart followed the requirements of the Second Amendment and the laws of Missouri, that he did nothing threatening, had the gun on his back and his hands on his phone and shopping cart.
    The guy who pulled a gun on him could not have seen anything threatening except his carrying a gun, something that is sanctioned and even encouraged by the US Government, the State of Missouri, and the Walmart Corporation. If anyone is guilty of terrorism here, it’s those three institutions. You may be right that a jury or judge would let him off on his claim of being terrorized by the open carry, but that would be an emotional response that’s contrary to fact and the law. Do you think it would be OK for anyone to pull a gun on one of those yahoos who open-carry in Starbucks and similar locations? Sooner or later, someone will be shot.
    (Btw, I myself am a strong advocate of the outlawing and confiscation of all guns except for those in the hands of the military and handguns in the possession of the police. Just in case you’re lumping me in with gun nuts and attacking me for it.)

  9. says

    @bobmunck, #4
    Are you suggesting that doing something legal is necessarily acceptable and, on the contrary, doing something illegal is necessarily bad? That’s how I am interpreting that and, I must say, that’s absurd. How do you deal with changing laws? So was slavery alright up to the point at which it became illegal and then suddenly it was bad?

  10. lochaber says

    jeezus fucking christ…

    just days after a mass shooting, in a walmart, and we have people defending some asshole imitating the mass shooter.

    This isn’t… I don’t even know? Syria? Aside from a recent uptick (which happens to coincide with orange asshole’s election campaign starting up…), violent crime rates have been steadily decreasing since 1990 or so.

    Nobody needs body armor or a damned assault rifle to go to Walmart.

    And if I saw someone wearing body armor and carrying an assault rifle, I would also assume they intended on killing people. Body armor is uncomfortable, nobody wears it if they aren’t being made to, or if they don’t think they’ll need it.

  11. Holms says

    This really comes down to the very basics of firearm safety: don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you believe you may need to fire; don’t point a gun at someone unless you believe there is a need to do so; don’t even take a gun with you unless you believe you will need it. If these dweebs walk around with guns, that should be taken as prima facie evidence that they have criminal intent.

    Here in sane lands, where walking around with firearms is solely reserved for police, a person doing the above would be arrested at gunpoint within minutes.

  12. Rob Grigjanis says

    lochaber @13:

    Nobody needs body armor or a damned assault rifle to go to Walmart.

    Recent events would suggest the body armour might be a good idea.

  13. vucodlak says

    @ bobmunck, #9

    The guy who pulled a gun on him could not have seen anything threatening except his carrying a gun,

    The ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is written such that a person only has to claim a reasonable fear for their life. That’s why it’s a terrible law, and that’s also why what the firefighter did falls within its bounds.

    That law, by the way, exists to sell guns. You don’t need a permit or training to carry a gun in this state (Missouri). You need a permit to carry a baton, or a Taser, or any other less lethal weapon, but you can buy a gun, load it, stick it in your pocket and walk around like a fool without even the flimsiest of safety regulations to check you.*

    You may be right that a jury or judge would let him off on his claim of being terrorized by the open carry, but that would be an emotional response that’s contrary to fact and the law.

    What do you think the law is, exactly? You think it’s really about justice, rights, or rationality? The law is a weapon. It exists to protect and preserve the powerful, period. Its agents exist to uphold the status quo. A few people start dressing up like GI Joe to go to Wal-Mart, and a lot of people aren’t go to risk going there at all. That’ll cut into profits, which is a grave sin indeed in these here United States.

    As I said above, the Stand Your Ground law is about selling guns. It has nothing to do with facts on public safety, or rationality in general. It’s meant to appeal to “wild west” mythological mentality in order to get the proles to buy more guns.

    Do you think it would be OK for anyone to pull a gun on one of those yahoos who open-carry in Starbucks and similar locations?

    Nothing about this nonsense is “OK,” but it would be every bit as reasonable to point a gun at the twits walking around with assault rifles as it is to actually walk around with an assault rifle. Scratch that- it’s more reasonable to hold the assault-rifle-bearers under guard. The assault-rifle-bearers are creating an extremely hostile environment. Every mass shooter spends some time just ‘carrying a gun’ in a manner that’s ‘unthreatening’ until they open fire.

    You walk around in a public place armed and armored for war, you don’t get to be surprised when that place turns into a warzone.

    *I was in a restaurant in Missouri a few years back in which someone had done just that. It fell out of his pocket and discharged, sending a shot across the crowded restaurant and through the kitchen wall. It was damn lucky no one was hit. The police came. They didn’t arrest him, they didn’t confiscate the weapon, and they didn’t issue a citation. They gently scolded him, because that’s all the law allows in this state. The fact is that the man was a clear danger to public safety, but the law and facts are often at odds.

  14. Curt Sampson says

    The hypocrisy of the pro-gun folks in this situation is no surprise; after all this is a state where the government has legislated that public universities and colleges must allow people to carry firearms on campus no matter how unsafe it makes many students feel.

    That people here who I’m pretty sure are quite liberal otherwise are supporting this kind of unequal enforcement of laws shocks me.

    This is a classic case of “we in the dominant class are allowed to do what we want, but as soon as people we don’t like the looks of try it, we stop them.” And that’s why white people can openly carry firearms in many states in the U.S. and black people, in practice, can’t.

    My response to the matter is, “Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If you get scared by some of the people carrying around weapons, go change your laws instead of selectively prosecuting those you don’t like the look of.”

    Yes, what Andreychenko was clearly not a good idea for him as far as the personal ramifications to him go, but as a demonstration of what you need to live with if you’re going to have such laws, it’s a pretty good one. Allowing this kind of selective enforcement just ends up supporting the gun nuts.

  15. lanir says

    The NRA side of this debate has been winning in the legislatures for so long the debate on their end has devolved into something indistinguishable from childish taunts. I mean really, this is the equivalent of having a gun on your back and saying to people “Neener neener neener, I’m not shooting you!” The yet is clearly implied but unspoken.

    You can tell there’s no real merit to it just by comparing it to laws concerning the carrying of knives and blades. Knives have far more utility than guns but also have far more restrictions. They’re useful in farm more situations and even the classic gun excuse that they’re used for hunting? Yeah, you should always have a knife with you when hunting, too.

    And just for the record, I’m not in favor of open carry swords, either. They just provide a useful example of a similar issue where legislatures have actually attempted to do their job in a reasonable fashion.

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