Memphis Man Apologizes for Rifle Carry: 'Not Going to Happen Again'

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

The 34-year-old who sparked concerns about a potential shooter near a Memphis pre-school and elementary school by openly carrying his modern sporting rifle at the ready as he walked through his neighborhood earlier this week says he wasn’t trying to make a political point or engaging in an act of Second Amendment activism. Instead, Derek Winn says he was carrying for self-defense; specifically out of concern for his personal safety because he believed he was being stalked.


“For a few days for more than a few days I was being stalked by someone on a bicycle white male and one night there were two of them on bikes and they got pretty close,” Winn told FOX13 in an exclusive interview.

Winn admits that he didn’t think through how his neighbors would react until he received a knock at the door from Memphis Police.

Winn also spoke to WREG in Memphis via text message, telling reporters he never intended to cause alarm.

“I overreacted and open carried on my way to/from work and ppl freaked out and tbh I don’t blame them,” he wrote, continuing, “Not going to happen again”.

Though Winn didn’t break the law by openly carrying the rifle and wasn’t cited by the police, his open carry walk did come with consequences. Winn says he lost his job at a local baker after pictures of his walk home went viral, although he told FOX 13 that his termination was because his boss “did not want such a large weapon stored at their business,” and not because of the media attention itself.

Regardless of whether Winn intended to make a public statement with his actions, gun control activists in Memphis have seized on his semi-automatic stroll to buttress their case in favor of a ballot initiative that would ban the sale of so-called assault weapons in the city, require a license to lawfully carry a handgun, and create a local “red flag” law. As written, the initiative, which could go before voters in 2024, wouldn’t take effect unless or until the state legislature repeals the firearm preemption law that precludes localities from adopting their own gun control measures. It’s not a direct challenge to preemption, but rather an attempt to apply pressure to legislators to scrap the preemption law.


I doubt Winn’s recent activities are going to be the difference maker in how the ballot initiative turns out, but he probably didn’t create any staunch Second Amendment activists as a result of his stroll home from work either. It certainly wasn’t the smartest course of action, even if Winn was concerned about being the victim of a violent crime, but something can be unwise without it needing to be illegal, and I don’t think that Winn’s rifle carry should be cause for state legislators to change the law allowing for open carry of both handguns and long guns.

Lawmakers could specify that rifles should be slung or shouldered and not carried at the ready without intruding on the right to keep and bear arms, but it’s not like doing so would mollify the anti-gunners in any way, and it would probably still rile up some Second Amendment activists. More importantly, it wouldn’t really have any impact on violent criminals or those with genuine intent to cause harm. When it comes to public safety, that should be the top priority of legislators, not the extraordinarily rare cases of someone like Winn unknowingly causing alarm.



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