There was a time when a man with a rifle slung over his shoulder would not have raised an eyebrow, especially in gun-friendly states. Those days are over. A 21 year old man walked into a Utah convenience store in Eagle Mountain to get a drink with an AR over his shoulder and a firearm in a holster on his side. Utah is an open carry state, but two schools in the immediate area went into lockdown and police were called.
The man told police he was just exercising his 2nd Amendment rights and open carrying to “promote gun awareness.” He did not commit a crime, but his timing, police said, was lousy. He did not make any threats, nor did he point his gun at anyone. It just happened to be the day of the “March for Our Lives” event.
Deseret News reported,
[Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer]Cannon said there was no evidence that the 21-year-old man purposely picked that day or a convenience store that was near a school to promote his constitutional rights. And “he never posed a danger or made threats to anyone,” according to the sheriff’s office.
The man was not arrested or cited. But he was asked by employees of Maverik to leave the property.
While the man’s actions were lawful, “his timing was terrible,” Cannon said.
“His manner of promoting gun safety was very ill-advised. We told him that. Once we explained to him why, he agreed with that,” the sergeant said. “There are other things people can do to promote firearm safety and firearm awareness other than the way he did it.”
The incident sparked all sorts of issues for local officials. Could a person be charged with disorderly conduct by merely open carrying a weapon? Could it be considered “reckless behavior” if a person has a gun and yet doesn’t threaten with it? Utah law allows open carry as long as the rounds in it are two chambers away from firing.
It’s happened before in Utah- in 2011, a 51 year old man was cited for having a rifle on his back and a handgun – holstered- on his hip. He was convicted of disorderly conduct and lost his guns during probation.
Still, the “scary-looking” “assault weapon that isn’t,” is the main focus of people’s worries, even in a relatively gun friendly state like Utah. Having grown up around guns, people walking around with a gun on their hip or carrying it on their back doesn’t phase me. IF they are in a shooting stance, with the gun pointed at people in front of them, THEN there is cause for concern.
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