Police rushed to a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri on Thursday after they received calls about an active shooter, just five days after a mass shooting at another Walmart in El Paso, Texas, left 22 dead and more than two dozen injured. They arrested 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko, who was carrying a loaded rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition, and wearing body armor. Prosecutors filed felony charges against Andreychenko of making a terrorist threat in the second degree. But he says was trying to make a political statement about gun rights. Per NPR:
"I wanted to know if that Walmart honored the 2nd Amendment," he is quoted as saying in a police statement. He also said he did not expect people in Missouri to react they way they did. "I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out."
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Missouri is "a noted leader in loosening gun restrictions." It&aposs an open-carry state, meaning it&aposs legal to openly and obviously carry a loaded firearm in public, though cities can impose some restrictions. Missouri doesn&apost require background checks or a permit to purchase a firearm. But it&aposs still illegal to carry a firearm if it&aposs "intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense." In a statement announcing the terrorism charge, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said, "Missouri protects the right of people to open carry a firearm, but that does not allow an individual to act in a reckless and criminal manner endangering other citizens." It&aposs not immediately clear if the charges against Andreychenko will stick.
While America has long had the highest rate of gun violence among developed countries, recent high-profile mass shootings has increased concern about guns across the country. Just this past week, a backfiring motorcycle near Times Square set off panic as crowds mistook it for gunfire, setting off a stampede. But even in redder states like Missouri, public anxiety over mass shootings remains high, and an armed and body-armored young man filming himself inside a Walmart, as Andreychenko was doing, raised red flags for shoppers. His wife and sister both warned him not to conduct his "social experiment"as he dubbed his visit to the Walmart. "He&aposs lucky he&aposs alive still, to be honest," Springfield Police Lt. Mike Lucas told reporters.
Andreychenko may be lucky that police took him alive, but his odds of surviving the encounter were much higher as a white man. According to Wesley Lowery at the Washington Post, black people are 2.5 times more likely than white people to be killed by police, and unarmed black Americans are five times more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than white Americans—a disproportionate rate that is not accounted for by crime rates or the potential threat the victim poses to law enforcement.
Ohio is also an open-carry state, but that didn&apost save John Crawford III, a black man who was shot to death by police in 2014 for carrying a toy rifle inside the very Walmart where it was for sale. Footage from security cameras showed that Crawford never pointed the toy gun at other shoppers, and that he was on the phone with the mother of his two young sons when police advanced and shot him in the side. He died later in a hospital, and neither of the officers involved in his death were indicted for negligent homicide. Nor did it protect Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old black boy who was carrying a toy gun in a Cleveland public park and shot by police as soon as officers jumped out of their cruiser. Philando Castile was killed during a traffic stop in Minnesota, which also allows open carry, after informing the officer who stopped him that he had a licensed handgun in his car. And in North Carolina, another open-carry state, police shot Keith Lamont Scott for allegedly pointing his legally obtained handgun at them. Dashboard cameras refuted the officers&apos claims, but none of them faced charges.
Even the enforcement of self-defense gun laws is racially unbalanced: despite Florida&aposs "stand our ground" law—legislation that famously protected George Zimmerman when he killed Trayvon Martin—Marissa Alexander, a black woman, spent almost six years either in prison or wearing an ankle monitor for firing a warning shot to scare off her allegedly abusive husband.
Meanwhile, Walmart, reportedly the largest gun retailer in the U.S., has instructed employees in an internal memo to pull any violent video game displays or marketing material and shutting off demo consoles for games that feature guns in response to the shooting in El Paso. But the company will still sell the video games and it hasn&apost announced any changes in its gun-selling policies. Employees have started calling for walkouts until Walmart does more than hiding cardboard Xbox displays.
Originally Appeared on GQ