Greene County Sheriff via AP
You may remember the story of Dmitriy Andreychenko from a couple of months ago. He’s the young man from Missouri who thought it would be a good idea to strap on some body armor, grab his AR-15, and take a little stroll while filming himself inside his local Walmart as a “test” of his Second Amendment rights just days after the shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. It ended up with his his arrest on charges of making a terroristic threat after panicked shoppers and employees set off alarms and frantically dialed 911.
Now, the 20-year old has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in the case and will avoid any prison time.
Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said in a news release Friday that Andreychenko didn’t intend to carry out a shooting but was conducting what he called a “social experiment” in the wake of the Texas shooting and another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. The release said Andreychenko had researched both shootings and saved the alleged manifesto of the El Paso shooter on his phone. On the day before the shooting, he posted a picture to Snapchat of a family member wearing his body armor looking down the sights of a rifle with the caption, “Watch out Walmart.”
Under the terms of the plea, he was ordered to serve 48 hours of shock incarceration and two years of probation. He also must receive firearm training, Patterson said the release. The making a terrorist threat carried a sentence of up to four years in prison.
So, Andreychenko won’t lose his right to keep and bear arms, but will face some consequences for his dumb idea. It also sounds like he finally recognizes that yes, this was in fact a stupid thing to do.
Andreychenko’s attorney, Dee Wampler, said in a statement released Friday in advance of the plea that Andreychenko is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
“His intention was to make a statement of his right to openly carry a firearm, which was legal but — for which he now admits was ill-timed given a recent Texas Walmart shooting,” the statement said. “It was a very bad idea which he now regrets. Regardless of how it looked, he never intended to harm or frighten anyone and merely saw it as a way to exercise his rights.”
Do you believe Andreychenko when he was he never intended to frighten anyone? I do believe he had no intent to harm anyone. I also believe he was trying to provoke a reaction, and he had to have known that one of the most likely responses was going to be fear.
His wife, Angelice Andreychenko, told investigators that she warned him it was not a good idea, adding that he was an immature boy. His attorney added in Friday’s statement that he should have listened to his wife’s advice.
That would have been the wiser course of action. Instead of doing something to support the Second Amendment, Andreychenko ended up giving gun control advocates ammunition for their cause. Gun control groups like Moms Demand Action pointed to Andreychenko as a reason to simply ban guns from stores altogether. As I said a few weeks ago when another open-carry activist named Ryan Flohr managed to freak out a grocery store:
Flohr undoubtably sees himself as a good guy with a gun, but what do shoppers see when they run into him carrying what looks to them like a big black scary gun in the ice cream aisle? They don’t see a good guy with a gun. They see a guy with a gun. A gun that looks scary to them. As much as gun owners might want that to be a teachable moment, where the shopper walks away thinking “Oh, that guy had a scary-looking gun, but he wasn’t hurting anybody with it”, the reality is most folks are going to walk away thinking “Why the hell would that guy be carrying that gun around the grocery store?”
I do applaud Flohr for his passion. However, I urge him to start to think tactically about protecting his rights and restoring a culture of lawful gun ownership.Right now we’re living in a ban-happy environment generally, and a moral panic over guns. Tactical mistakes on our part can lead to eroding the very rights we’re trying to protect. We need more Sun Tzu’s and fewer Leeeeeroy Jenkins’s in order to secure our rights and effectively counter the anti-gun playbook.
Andreychenko was definitely more Leeeeeroy Jenkins than Sun Tzu when we set off on his “social experiment,” but hopefully he’ll be a bit more strategic and tactically inclined in any future efforts to support the Second Amendment. I’m glad he’s not going to prison, and I’m fine with him having to take a gun safety course. I just wonder if it’s not too late for the judge to require he take a course in public relations as well.