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The Second Amendment Now Means the Right to Terrorize
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=15772"><span class="small">Dahlia Lithwick, Slate </span></a>   
Tuesday, 13 August 2019 08:26

Lithwick writes: "Andreychenko's little 'social experiment' was only one of many post-El Paso."

Dmitriy Andreychenko, who walked through a Missouri Walmart with an AK-style weapon over the weekend. (photo: Greene County Sheriff/AP)
Dmitriy Andreychenko, who walked through a Missouri Walmart with an AK-style weapon over the weekend. (photo: Greene County Sheriff/AP)

The Second Amendment Now Means the Right to Terrorize

By Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

13 August 19

A white man “tested” whether or not his Second Amendment rights were still protected—by wandering around a Walmart with an AK-style weapon.

ver the weekend, news surfaced of Dmitriy Andreychenko, the 20-year-old man who thought it would be a useful “social experiment” to walk through a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, wearing body armor, carrying an AR-style rifle less than a week after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Andreychenko was also carrying a semi-automatic handgun loaded with one round in its chamber. And more than 100 rounds of ammunition. When the cops apprehended him, he insisted, as told by the Washington Post, that he had only been “testing” whether “his Second Amendment rights would be honored in a public area.” 

Oddly enough, both his sister and his wife had warned him that people might not react well to this social experiment—that perhaps context mattered in the days after the massacre at the Texas Walmart. But Andreychenko told cops he “did not anticipate customers’ reactions,” because, as he told investigators, “This is Missouri … I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out.” 

Or like Texas, maybe. 

At one level, he’s not wrong: Missouri is an open-carry state, and a 2014 state law overruled any more conservative local regulations against open carry, as the Washington Post noted this weekend. Andreychenko gets to do whatever he wants in Missouri, so long as he is (a) white and (b) not scaring the good people of the Springfield Walmart because of some unquantified temporal proximity to the El Paso shootings. 

But he did scare the good people of Walmart—a store patron, identified by a local news station as a former member of the military, held Andreychenko at gunpoint outside the building until the police got there and then took him into custody. The police told him he couldn’t keep doing what he had been doing, but if you look at what they said, none of it really makes any sense. In the same Washington Post article, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said in a statement that “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’s worth stopping to note here that Andreychenko’s little “social experiment” was only one of many post–El Paso. CNN notes that since that massacre, at least eight other Walmarts have descended into similar bouts of chaos and panic in a single week. On Tuesday, frightened customers fled a Louisiana Walmart after men in an argument drew weapons. You know, just a bunch of guys, having fun with the First and Second amendments, while people scatter in terror and prepare to die. 

Andreychenko didn’t die last week. Instead, officers took the man into custody “without incident.” That’s a tremendous surfeit of good fortune for a man who was apprehended both by an armed bystander and the police. By its very definition, white privilege is the ability to film yourself conducting a “social experiment” with military-grade weapons at the same chain where a mass shooting just happened, without being shot dead in your tracks. Trayvon Martin wasn’t even granted the luxury of being allowed to conduct a “social experiment” with a bag of Skittles. 

Instead, Andreychenko was charged with, basically, “scaring the people”—formally with “making a terrorist threat.” Presumably, he and all the other social experimenters will be free to go back to their laboratories of Second Amendment democracy just as soon as this latest mass shooting slips out of our minds. Springfield attorney Scott Pierson even told a local news outlet that Andreychenko might not have been arrested for the incident if it had happened before the shootings last weekend in El Paso and Dayton. “But because of those things [that] happened, a reasonable person would be fearful of an individual walking in with a tactical vest and what looks like an assault rifle,” he said. 

By this logic, Andreychenko could have … what? Waited a week and then tried his stunt then? Chosen a Kmart instead of a Walmart? Worn a lab coat? At what point would a reasonable person believe that “an individual walking in with a tactical vest and what looks like an assault rifle” is just there to shop? A few years back, in response to a rise in men claiming First Amendment rights to mass around restaurants armed to the teeth, Christian Turner and I argued that it’s impossible to tell who’s doing performance art and who’s there to kill or terrorize folks. “Given how many people die every year as a result of gun violence, reasonable observers can’t differentiate between the AK-47 being brandished for lethal purposes and the one being brandished to celebrate freedom and self-reliance,” we wrote. “That’s why reasonable observers tend to feel intimidated and call the cops.” 

Almost exactly two years ago, on Aug. 11, 2017, white supremacist Chris Cantwell was apprehended at a Walmart in Charlottesville, Virginia, waving guns around the parking lot. The cops let him go because, you guessed it, open carry. He went on to terrorize thousands of people, and later he pleaded guilty to assault and battery. He has been barred from the commonwealth for five years

I am mindful of privilege today more than most days because it is the second anniversary of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, and we all know how that ended. I am mindful of what privilege buys you in America: the right to not get shot when you’re armed to the teeth, and the right to not have to explain beyond the fact that you were just “experimenting” with constitutional freedoms. The privilege of violent white men is the privilege of an almost-perfect failure of empathy, imagination, or regard. It buys you the right to ignore your wife and sister, to ignore current events and history and murder statistics, to ignore the fact that reasonable people should reasonably fear being shot in a bloody massacre. It allows you to stagger blindly through the world and not get killed, while you practice the fine art of looking like you can and will shoot hundreds of others, without even wondering why people are fleeing the building with their children clutched tight. 

White men with guns, quickly becoming the most lethal cohort of Americans, don’t just benefit, every day, from the presumption of innocence, and eternal boyhood. They benefit twice over—first from that, and then from the presumption that their perfect self-absorption and solipsism are themselves enduringly worthy of constitutional protection. 

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+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-08-13 09:00
I only quibble with the inclusion of the word "now" in the title -- " The Second Amendment Now Means the Right to Terrorize."

In fact, the US has been terrorizing people all over the world with guns for all of its existence. Just ask African Americans, the descendents of former slaves who where hunted down with guns and dogs. Or ask Native Americans.

There's a lot written on the British use of submachine guns in its conquest of Africa. This was in the 1880s or 90s. The British were quite pleased with the ability of a submachine gun to terrorize a whole village or city by mowing down ranks of people who gathered to see the white people who had come to their land.

It is very unlikely that white people will ever give up their guns. So the only solution is for everyone else to buy guns and "open carry" through white neighborhoods and shopping areas. This will put things in perspective very quickly.
+3 # economagic 2019-08-13 18:03
Oops, sorry--that was supposed to be a RED thumb. You had me until your last paragraph, which is precisely the "argument" put forth by the NRA .
-1 # Jack Ox 2019-08-14 09:37
But- he has point- Gun laws appeared suddenly when Black Panthers started to carry.
+1 # economagic 2019-08-14 12:47
But those were laws attempting to RESTRICT the right to own and bear arms, which gained a little traction until the NRA went off the rails. My point was that millions of "people of color" carrying firearms openly in public are not likely result in anything more benign than an escalation of the "Wild West" mentality the NRA has given us.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-08-14 12:54
econo -- I don't this my last paragraph is what the NRA intends. They say the best solution to a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun. The NRA would never consider African American with guns as good people with guns. They tacitly assume that "good person" means a white guy with a gun.
+6 # WorkingClass 2019-08-13 12:08
The other day I received a Facebook message from a old friend.
I noted there was an insignia for the Light Foot Militia in one corner of the message he had repasted. In looking at their page it states they are a Constitutional Militia and quote “a well regulated Militia” from the Second Amendment. That confuses me. The Constitutional Militia is mentioned in two places of the US Constitution. The Second Amendment and Article One, Section 8, paragraphs 15 & 16. It does not anywhere refer to private Militia, rather the true Constitutional Militia as spelled out in the Constitution is to be under the control of the government. The purpose of the Militia is to protect the government from both foreign and domestic enemies of the government. The Second Amendment is there to assure those brought into the government controlled militia had necessary weapons to do the job. At the time the Constitution was drafted there was fear of internal strife. This included slave rebellions and free citizens forming private armed militia to fight against laws passed by the government. For a group like the Lightfoot Militia to say they are a “Constitutional ” Militia is not in keeping with the Constitution. In fact, if they think they exist to resist government by force they are the exact reason Article One, Section 8 and the Second Amendment exist - to put them down if they ever tried using violence to fight the government rather than peaceful participation in our democracy.
-5 # Questioner 2019-08-13 14:45
Does obtaining, keeping, and bearing arms necessarily allow stupid and threatening behavior? Does people feeling terrorized by others simply existing while armed justify denying a right to a whole class of people? Does the imperfect, racially biased, application of the constitution justify voiding it altogether for everyone?
+2 # WorkingClass 2019-08-14 08:10
Nope, Nope and Nope. Thus the need for universal background checks for all sales of firearms. I think we should allow manufacture and importation of assault style rifles, only they should not be allowed detachable magazines and be limited to ten rounds. There should be a reasonable period of time for existing assault rifles that don't meet this criteria to be turned in for cash. Once past that deadline - jail time if you are caught with a complying weapon. Dreaming - admittedly.