Guns Don’t Make You Free

On Thursday, Dmitriy N. Andreychenko walked into a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, wearing full body armor and carrying a semiautomatic handgun loaded with one round in its chamber and an “AR-style rifle.” He was also in possession of 100 rounds of ammunition. Andreychenko, aged 20, says he had no intention of hurting anybody. He was just making a video of himself swaggering around armed to the teeth in a Walmart to reaffirm his 2nd Amendment rights, or something.

Shoppers did not think well of Andreychenko’s stunt. They panicked and stampeded out of the store. Fortunately, there are no reports anyone was trampled. Another store patron, identified only as an off-duty fireman, pulled a gun on Andreychenko and held him until police came to take him into custody.

Like a lot of “red” states Missouri is pretty much anything goes as far as guns are concerned — carry what you want pretty much anywhere you want. Missouri also has the sixth highest rate of firearm deaths in the nation. The state motto should be changed to “The Shoot-Me State.” There was an open question whether Andreychenko would be charged with a crime, since state law allows him to openly carry lots of loaded firearms as long as he’s not doing it in a “threatening manner.”

But, apparently, a judge decided that what he did was threatening enough. Andreychenko has been charged with making a terrorist threat in the second degree, a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison. It’s not clear whether this charge was based on anything in Andreychenko’s cell-phone video or captured by store surveillance cameras, or the fact that he obviously just plain scared the stuffing out of a lot of people and caused a panicked evacuation of the store.

Andreychenko claimed he did not anticipate customers’ reactions, a Friday statement from a Springfield police officer says.

“This is Missouri,” he told investigators, according to law enforcement. “I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out.”

Andreychenko’s wife and sister tried to talk him out of pulling the stunt. The wife allegedly told the police that Andreychenko is an “immature boy.” Yeah, that marriage is doomed.

This also points to the obvious stupidity of “open carry” laws. It’s fine to say that you can carry lots of guns as long as you don’t do so in a threatening manner. But the very act of openly carrying weapons is threatening in most contexts. Put another way, why else would somebody show up in a public place brandishing weapons if not, at the very least, to intimidate people? That’s really the whole point, isn’t it? It’s a dominance display, or at least an attempt at one:

Josh Marshall:

We should recognize these actions as precursor acts to mass shootings.

Indeed, yesterday the FBI announced the arrest of 23 year old Conor Climo for plotting to stage a mass shooting or bomb attack at either a synagogue or gay night club in Las Vegas. Three years ago he was in the news in Las Vegas as one of these self-styled open carry activists who’d decided he would patrol local neighborhoods uninvited with an AR-15 and various other military paraphrenalia. Here’s a local news report from September 2016. Police said he what he was doing was legal so long as he didn’t go within a certain distance of schools or certain government buildings.

Yep, the guy in the 2016 news story is the very same Conor Climo that the FBI just arrested. Back to Josh Marshall:

This isn’t just one example. It’s fairly obvious that anyone who carries off one of these stunts is worth monitoring for future mass casualty attacks. Despite the claims about acclimating people to the ‘normalness’ of being around random civilians with military style weapons and the language of “rights”, the obvious motivation behind these stunts is to feel power as evidenced by the ability to scare and terrorize people. That is to say, to experience the fear or terror or sense of powerlessness others feel when someone they don’t know or have any reason to trust is strutting around with an AR-15. The language and politics of extreme gun rights activists is consistently highly similar to those of far-right or white nationalist groups. They are of a piece both psychologically and ideologically.

I don’t expect the hard-right Missouri legislature to do a dadblamed thing about the phenomenon of play-pretend commandos shopping in Walmart. That would be for the best; the whackjob Texas legislature likes to respond to mass shooting by making sure the next shooter has an easier time arming himself by making their already absurdly loose gun laws even looser.

Folks, this is not freedom. Having to live among heavily armed Men With Issues whose personalities are somewhere on the Bozo spectrum is not my idea of freedom.  Further, if your “freedom” hinges on having to intimidate and dominate other law-abiding citizens, then your definition of “freedom” leaves a lot to be desired. And the “gun rights” crowd has a long history of using arms and intimidation to stomp on everyone else’s freedoms, especially freedom of speech when people speak up for gun control.

Charles Pierce wrote back in 2013,

The Republican party, a number of timid Democrats, and the conservative “movement” have played footsie with dangerous woodland characters for far too long. This stuff can be used, but it cannot be fully controlled. This is not political debate. This is empowered, enabled paranoia, with firearms. This is not an exercise in democracy. This is a little touch of Munich, 1923 come to the forested exurbs. This stuff can be used, but it cannot be fully controlled, and something very bad is going to happen.

Something very bad has happened a lot, and it keeps getting worse.

10 thoughts on “Guns Don’t Make You Free

  1. A good friend of mine, Mike Shanahan, (in his younger days) was the leader of the Detroit chapter of the Guardian Angels. The organization has had its share of problems, including at least one staged confrontation decades ago in NYC. The members who volunteered were the real deal. They walked some of the toughest neighborhoods in major cities and they did it unarmed in the era before cell phones.

    They also were trained. Mike told me they went in pairs or in groups and developed a rapport with the police and the residents. That's manly – standing up for people you don't know in the most poverty-stricken areas of the inner city for nothing except the sense of purpose and belonging that comes with taking up a worthy cause. 

    Mike is as Irish as they come – he walked parts of Detroit as black as they come. He didn't see any minorities as a threat – they are all people to him. He's a good man who expects people will (mostly) be good also. The gun nuts see only invaders and members of the "other" tribes whom he wants to expel. They see only evil. The difference between Mike and these gun nuts is fear. They are terrified and Mike isn't.

  2. maha,

    When you mentioned "his wife and sister," were you talking about two women, or just one?

  3. There is a distinct difference between Liberty and License that is WAAAAAY beyond the ability for Republicons to grasp.

  4. Here's a guy who's experience was similar to the gun nut in MO, except for one key fact: he paid with his life:–law/walmart-911-caller-intentionally-lied-police-crawford-shooting/cuuIrJa2kvCXkMoFcUVrCP/#

    I just find it amazing that, especially in the wake of what just happened at the Walmart in El Paso, that a young white guy feels "free" enough to walk into a Walmart heavily armed, and treated with such deference.  My guess is he won't face any charges for it.  If he had been black or brown, the treatment he received would have been very different.

    There is significant overlap between 2nd amendment gun nuts and white supremacists.  

  5. My son drove down to Florida & back recently.  He got lost in KY & stopped for gas at some little place & said that every guy there was openly carrying a gun & the smallest dude had the largest gun.  My son is not unacquainted with guns; he grew up in rural Western NY & learned to hunt & handle firearms.  But he said it was weird seeing these guys just hanging out at the gas station with these giant guns for no apparent reason.  He just wanted to get out of there.  He also said they were NOT friendly at all. 

    I totally agree with you that this is not freedom. 

  6. White Savages, that's what they are.

    I've known many decent "whites",'even married two. Family ties are strong. I never even meet my first father-in-law. He was a racist. Eventually, they convinced her into being a White Savage just like them. She got an abortion. Yeah, so much for Pro Life.

    These are the people that came to this hemisphere uninvited. They didn't come here illegally, just unlawfully and immorally. They tortured the natives, killed their buffalo, gave them germ infested blankets, put them on reservations. They terrorized the people in India, and others around the world. They are the murders; they are the rapists. 

    Let's call them for what they are: White Savages. There is nothing "supreme" about them. Most don't even speak proper English. They are not the ones that put a man on the moon. They are losers, trying to pass themselves off as decent whites. They are going to bring decent people down in the eyes of the world. Even now, Europe is aghast by our president and his tribe.

    Get comfortable calling them "White Savages". Maybe, by holding up this mirror, they will see themselves for what they really are. 

  7. Just the fact that someone would buy or even own an AR-15 should be reason enough to know that they are mentally unbalanced. But once they take to patrolling neighborhoods looking for "enemies" it becomes abundantly clear that they are way over the edge.

     I thought it was funny that the news interviewer mentioned that Climo had spent a short time in the Army, and that Climo qualified that statement with a "very". That kinda tells me he wasn't even able to make it through boot camp. I guess it didn't take the Army long to figure out that he was a waste of space and give him an unadaptability discharge and send him on his way.

    • The nexus between these gun nuts and white supremacy is a measure of mental and/or emotional illness or instability.  A lot of these people suffer from low self-esteem.  "Incels" overlap here as well.

      The danger lies in Trump having validated their inherent desire for vengeance, the only way they interact with the world.

      Not to judge, but talk about a bunch of losers. 

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