The stated goal of the open carry movement is to normalize the open carry of firearms. Open carriers say that they want the public to not see the mere presence of firearms as a threat, and so they open carry in hopes of educating the public.

It’s working out great in Beaumont, Texas.

On Dec. 28, Derek Poe stopped by GameStop in Parkdale Mall before going to the store he owns in the mall, Golden Triangle Tactical. While at GameStop, he was stopped by police officers and the AR-15 that was slung around his back was seized.

Poe says he was just exercising his right to open carry a long rifle.

Police have charged him with disorderly conduct because he displayed a firearm “In a manner calculated to alarm.”

Poe disagrees saying his rifle was facing barrel down on his back and his hands weren’t even on the gun.

“It was clearly obvious I didn’t have criminal intent. I had a drink in one hand and a bag in the other. I didn’t commit a crime. I legally carried a long arm in Texas,” Poe said.

Detectives say witnesses gave statements that they were “terrified” and “thought they were going to die.”

Parkdale Mall is privately owned and has the right to insist on certain behavior from those who chose to come on the property to shop and work there. I do not know if the signage for the mall is up to legal standards, but the mall does have a code of conduct, and here’s the relevant part of it, stating what they explicitly ban.

“20. Carrying or displaying weapons of any kind except those carried by certified law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties.”

I’m certain that lessee’s like Poe also have to abide by terms set forth by the mall’s owners, and that he likely signed documents that bars him from violating the mall’s code of conduct. He may very well be in breach of his contract with the mall as a store owner.

Poe could have made his political point in a public place instead of on private property where firearms are banned. He could have had the magazine out and a chamber flag in the firearm and made the same political point. But Poe made the calculated decision to carry a rifle with the bolt closed and a magazine in, slung in a readily accessible position where he could have it in a firing position inside two seconds, in a shopping mall where they are banned, and asserts that others in the mall should not find it alarming.

Poe has created a situation that in my opinion, he cannot honorably defend.