Guy Walks into Kroger with an AR-15

Some jackass strolled into the Kroger on Hydraulic carrying an AR-15 today, the Daily Progress reports, leading to at least one person wisely fleeing the store and calling 911. Police quickly arrived and detained the 22-year-old, before releasing him since, in Virginia, there’s nothing illegal about strolling around a grocery store carrying an assault weapon. Police figure this was an open carry demonstration. This is a thing, wherein people who know that it is legal to openly carry will go into crowded public places while carrying guns, on the theory that people will eventually stop being terrified and get used to this as a reasonable behavior. Basically, First Amendent : Westboro Baptist Church :: Second Amendment :: these jackasses. Anyhow, Kroger tossed the guy off their property and told him not to come back, since there’s nothing illegal about throwing a dangerous jerk off of your private property.

45 thoughts on “Guy Walks into Kroger with an AR-15”

  1. So, I was there, was in direct line of fire if Charlottesville Police had felt the need to discharge their weapons (they didn’t, very professionally defused the situation). Glad Kroger has banned this person, but wondering who else would feel better if Kroger posted its property as a gun-free zone?

  2. Comparing this to the demonstrations of the WBC? Really Waldo, you should avoid hyperbole. I would agree that this guy was not going to make any friends, but he isn’t exactly dancing on a person’s grave and making enemies of just about everyone (many on the right may question him, but not demonize him).

    Also, I always snicker whenever I see the title of this blog, cvillenews. As I knew it, news was supposed to be about reporting what happened, not opining about it.

  3. Pay no attention to crap, Waldo. Some readers are unable to understand what a blog is. Did anyone get Rambo’s name? Other businesses, schools, offices may want to ban him -before- he panics their staff and customers. By the way, if I was loading my car at Kroger and he walked by me with that rifle, he wouldn’t have made it passed my tire iron.

  4. Comparing this to the demonstrations of the WBC? Really Waldo, you should avoid hyperbole.

    Oh, it’s not hyperbole. If anything, it’s an understatement. Both engage in fundamentally the same practice: they exercise a protected right to an extent that a reasonable person finds odious. The difference is that the Westboro Baptist Church provokes feelings of contempt and anger, while somebody openly carrying an AR-15 in a grocery store provokes feels of terror and fear. The latter is much worse than the former.

    Also, I always snicker whenever I see the title of this blog, cvillenews. As I knew it, news was supposed to be about reporting what happened, not opining about it.

    The rule that a blog that has the word “news” in its URL must be free of opinion is a rule that exists only in your imagination. You started reading this blog more than half a decade ago, CR—at some point you should cease to be surprised. (“Opinion! On a blog! Ha-ha-ha-ha! What fools! I snicker at them!”)

  5. I think the analogy is apt. WBC pulls off shock-value stunts to prove that they can say whatever they want. This guy knows he is frightening and offending people, good sense be damned.

  6. Maybe he was one of the good guys, hoping to pass the day shooting a few bad guys at the local Kroger. Isn’t this what we want?

  7. A Kroger shopper walks into the store openly carrying an AR-15. What are the possible outcomes?

    1) Everyone in the store comes to the same independent conclusion that the gentleman is exercising his 2nd amendment rights. They leave him alone.

    2) One or more fellow shoppers or store employees is frightened by the sight of a man with an AR-15. They flee and call 911 to report a man with an assault rifle. From here, we see several alternative paths:
    2.1) Police arrive, and after a tense initial interaction, realize the man is legally carrying and they let him go.
    2.2) Police arrive, and after a tense initial interaction, a harmless motion is interpreted as hostile and shots are fired. Innocent people (and all are mostly innocent here) may be harmed or killed.
    2.3) A second shopper, who is also exercising his 2nd amendment rights, sees people fleeing the store and spots a man with an AR-15. He decides to intervene. After a tense initial reaction, they both realize there’s a misunderstanding and the stand down. Of course, police have yet to arrive, so 2.1 and 2.2 are still possible options.
    2.4) A second shopper, described above, confronts the man with the AR-15. Either of the gunmen might misinterpret the intentions of the other, shots are fired, innocent people may be harmed or killed.

    3) Kroger states that weapons aren’t permitted in the store either by signage or employee reminder. Kroger shopper leaves AR-15 at home.

    Certainly, 1 or 3 are the more desirable outcomes, but we’ve seen in this case that 2.1 occured. I’d expect that the chance of 2.2 or 2.4, while quite small, are still significant and given enough of these situations, they are likely to occur. The paradox is that many more of these situations would have to occur before eveyone on the store independently reacts in the #1 way (national uptick on laws/norms takes decades, see seat belts and DUIs). If 2.2 or 2.4 were to occur, I would expact more companies to pursue #3 in reaction to media reports.

  8. So, there’s a two-sided effect brought on by Rambo (the guy with the AR-15).

    First, people may become desensitized to the sight and carriage of guns, and realize that not all who carry guns—even big, very destructive, and scary-looking guns—are bad guys intent on killing innocents. But, Kroger undoubtedly wants its customers to feel safe and comfortable in their store, and would not be unwise to post a sign forbidding guns in their store. This now means that those who have concealed carry permits, and carry small weapons for self defense—potentially from crazy people with AR-15s who are intent on killing innocents—can no longer carry their concealed handguns in the store.

    The first time I saw a man openly carrying a gun, it was in Kroger at Barracks. The man was wearing camouflage, and had a large revolver in a holster on his hip. Nothing scary about this for me, just unusual.

    Moral: if you want to continue to be able to legally carry your handgun in a public place, don’t legally carry your assault rifle in that same place. Also, look respectable or non-threatening (interpret that however you wish). i.e. don’t $#!+ in your own bed.

  9. Agree with Duane. The guy was trying to prove a point-and the point he proved was that he was an ass! If anything, he hurt the Second Amendment cause.
    Though do have to speculate a bit. Would there have been a different reaction had he had walked in wearing his deer hunting clothes with a bolt action Remington or Ruger .270 slung over his back?
    Little off the subject, but I think the ARs and similar types are ugly as homemade sin! Would take a lever or bolt action any day, a Winchester 94 or Marlin 336 for lever guns, a Winchester Model 70 or Remington 700 line for bolts.(then there are the British double rifles-but who can afford one of them?)
    The NRA has been taken over by those who support the rightwing Republican agenda, which trolls for votes in red states by opposing any sort of gun regulation legislation. Wasnt always that way- the NRA supported the ban on mail order firearms after the assassination of JFK.
    I support the Second Amendment. But it does not give anyone the right to own any type of arms whatsoever. Carried to its extreme, an individual would have the right to own a missile with a nuclear warhead.
    Likewise the First Amendment. It does not protect libel, threats, fraud, child pornography as free speech.It is not absolute.

  10. “Oh, it’s not hyperbole. If anything, it’s an understatement.”

    At least you didn’t pull a channel 19 and start your post off with saying…. a guy walks into a local Kroger’s with an AR-15….. yeah, har har… an unintended lead-in.

    Gail set up the intro to comments quite spastic enough: “…I was there, was in direct line of fire if Charlottesville Police had felt the need to discharge…..” how Hindenburg eye-witnessing.

    Ah, that’s everybody’s typical Waldo. We can’t have that perfect and ideal world, as long as extreme liberals and ultra-conservatives aren’t culled through [say] concerned citizens (i.e. Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population)

    Sorry, didn’t mean to kick that wasp nest. Maybe Waldo might stumble upon a fresh update yet to do upon that outfit later. From what’s been long evident here, it maybe news but its never impartial!

    Besides, why distract away from everyone’s base precepts (not to mention enjoyment in some twisted cases,) to congregate here and see where which so-and-so’s come down on what side of the breaking local news. Of course, I have to add myself to such distinct list.

    Please sir, can Oliver have more? Wait… What’s the title of this post again! A Guy Walks into…..

  11. Frankly Pseudo, even with a 5 minute opportunity to edit you left that unintelligible mess? Is there a kernel of a thought buried somewhere in it?

  12. By the way, the NRA has argued that Kroger’s decision to ban this man from the store would be a violation of his second amendment rights. They have argued that second amendment rights supersede property rights, and this principle has gained legislative success in the State of Florida.

  13. So, it’s just a matter of time because our GA enacts a “stand your ground” law. It would be a matter of time before someone trying to exercise his 2nd amendment rights….and someone else blows him away because of the “stand your ground” law. Where does this all end?

    I will say that I came from an area where the high school shut down school for the first day of hunting season and I wouldn’t be afraid of anyone driving their truck with a gun rack (minus ammo). But that was then, and I would be a little freaked out seeing someone with a hunting rifle, let alone a AR-15. Why? Because we have had so many incidents of a guy* going out and shooting people in a mass execution. I never considered that happening back in 1977. Certainly, times have changed.

    *Have we ever had a woman go off and instigate a mass shooting?

  14. Oh, if only all comments (here and elsewhere on the web) were as well-considered as Andrew’s…

  15. Sorry NRA. Private property. They can toss anyone for any reason they wish. And when the cops arrive to handle it they will not even talk to the person about the process until they are removed form the premise.

    For those who care, author Justin Cronin has a great op-ed piece in the NYT’s on being a liberal who likes guns.

    Anyway, the person who did this Kroger thing is as likely to be, in some part, related to the mass killers with mental issues abounding. I would hesitate to say that the gun did not lead to the MI issues, but that the MI issues led to the poor choices with the gun.

    Cannot find it now but did I read that the pols proposing gun laws are also writing the same laws to exempt politicians?

  16. @ Barbara Myer : 34 year span since that incident. Weekly occurrence, sometimes more often, when perpetrated by a man (lately). Just sayin’.

  17. I can think of 3 types of people who might hypothetically bring a gun into a store:

    1) someone who is actually planning on shooting (or at the very least, intimidating/ scaring) everyone

    2) one of those “open carry” assholes Waldo describes above

    3) somebody who spends waaay more time in the woods with a rifle than in the city without one, and it just didn’t even occur to them that it might be a problem (i.e., maybe they often stop by a local country store on the way home from a hunting trip, but rarely ever venture into town to go to Kroger). (this third possibility is a stretch here, but I’m sure it happens here & there every now and then).

    …given the age of the guy (not much other info is available about him, at least that I’ve seen), I was going to guess it could be any of those possibilities… but judging by the type of gun I’m gonna go ahead and assume it’s #2. Hunters, please correct me if I’m wrong on this one, but no one uses an AR-15 to hunt deer, right?

  18. eventually, the most likely scenario is that a security guard is gonna see some guy–carrying an automatic weapon–walk into a large grocery store with a lot of people in it, and reach the conclusion that he’s not there to buy avocados…he’s there to kill people. which, given the recent context and the lack of any possible need for arming oneself with an automatic weapon at a grocery store, would make a hell of a lot of sense. especially given the fact that every second that security guard waits to decipher the situation, innocent lives are possibly threatened. so yeah, in virginia, you’ve got a right to carry a weapon like that into kroger. i just hope the security guard has a right to kill you. which, unfortunately (and problematically if he’s eventually arrested for murder for defending the public), i dont think he does. and which means we need to address the absurdity of our gun laws. kinda self-evident isnt it?

  19. @James. It is weird that in this liberal bastion that no one is talking about one of the common threads of these guys, mental illness and medication.

    That and a father that would take them out behind the woodshed for a talk about behaving and not being an asshole. Sometimes talking endlessly is not the answer. Occasionally the smart ass that never knows when to shut up learns at the end of an arm from someone not interested in processing.

  20. What happened to tackling the subject and not your blog followers?

    Again, you may present news but it is (no contraction this time here to confuse just anybody) not impartial. Well, not impartial to some at least reading here.

    And Wordsmith, given your opinion is so very likely preset, what gives you a monopoly on thought or (for that matter) presumption?

    Yes, I said your opinion is very likely set, not obvious! 1, 2, 3… Amazing how some individuals can DISARM without processing here.

  21. A—ole is too complimentary for this individual. His behavior is apparently legal in Virginia but it is profoundly antisocial and utterly unacceptable. I usually want such nuts to be unidentified as they are obviously seeking attention but in this case, I do hope that Kroger lets other business owners know this person’s identity so that he has to travel far for a gallon of milk- or anything else.

  22. Dan, you’re right about what this comes down to—don’t be an asshole. This guy failed that test. Dopes like this are why the Second Amendment is under attack. As a gun owner, seems to me that I’d prefer open carry to concealed. At least then I know who has a gun. But that assumes reasonable behavior—that we’re all treating others as we’d like to be treated. A dope like this wanders into Kroger with an AR-15 strapped to his back, and suddenly the idea behind open carry (a holstered handgun) is used for something nuts. That creates very real support for undermining the Second Amendment, just like the Westboro Baptist Church has caused some very real erosion of support for the First Amendment (e.g., laws prohibiting protesting near funerals). Assholes ruin stuff for everybody else.

  23. What happened to tackling the subject and not your blog followers?

    I didn’t “tackle” anybody—I seriously have no idea of what you were saying.

    Again, you may present news but it is (no contraction this time here to confuse just anybody) not impartial. Well, not impartial to some at least reading here.

    Well, no, of course it’s not impartial! It never has been. This was the very first news story posted to the site, 12 years ago. It shouldn’t surprise you that opinion is present here. :)

  24. Frankly Pseudo you have some amazing mental powers if you can ascertain anything about my opinion on any matter simply by ignoring my suggestion that you write coherently when you spew yourself across the blogosphere.

  25. a few hours after I had posted the above comments, a local downtown business owner told me that someone walked into his (tiny) store two weeks ago with a handgun on his hip. he immediately asked the guy to leave. the store owner is from Europe as well, so I think he was even more freaked out than someone who grew up around the gun culture in Virginia might have been.

    apparently there was kind of a minor facebook-scuffle over it; he posted about it, and at first friends and customers sympathized and expressed solidarity, before a group of open-carry-activist strangers showed up and turned the whole thread into a trainwreck (though not being a facebooker, I hadn’t heard about any of this until today).

  26. So why would it be a *good* thing for us all to become more used to the sight of people strolling around in public with their loaded AR-15s waving around? If we become used to this, then isn’t it *easier* for the shooters to do their stuff? I mean, how sweet if you no longer have to burst in through a door and take everyone by surprise–you can stroll all the way through Belk into the very center of the Fashion Square Mall with your AR-15, with no one giving you a second look–until you start shooting, of course.

    What the “open carry demonstrations” do is make it easier for shooters to blend in. Thanks.

  27. Apparently this individual had a note in his pocket explaining that his actions were a protest of some sort, a sentiment which he seems capable of conveying more directly unless he thought (perhaps not unreasonably, I don’t know what his intentions were, nor what response he expected to provoke)that he was to be martyr’d for the second amedment. And according to the news he approached the building to see if any relevant restrictions were posted before returning to his vehicle to arm himself. I’m guessing in the future there may be. Anyone been to that store since then?

  28. Claire, I think these people feel like their actions discourage potential would-be criminals/shooters. That and there’s some kind of hero complex at work. The guy from fpsrussia* who posted lots of gun related youtube videos actually said after the theater shooting that he’d gone to the movies armed in the hope that someone would open fire!? How demented is that? Maybe these folks see themselves contributing some protective element to society, whether it wants it or not.
    *Ironically dead from a gunshot shortly thereafter.

  29. @ wordsmith
    Just as amazing as IF you contend I SPEW across the blogosphere.

    Thanks Waldo for the hyperlink down memory lane.

  30. And yet, Uber liberal tree hugging cville schools has filters and censoring all over their computers….

  31. An interesting note: in the numerous comments about the story on the local news websites, there seems to be as much condemnation of this guy from self-identified gun owners as from those who do not identify as such (although I have not counted them exactly), certainly the language is just as harsh.

    There are a few voices out there cheering him on, however.

  32. In the words of one observer:

    “Would it have been OK to have carried the gun into a store where the Governor or Attorney General were shopping?”

  33. Wouldn’t be surprised if he or his backers picked Charlottesville as a liberal jurisdiction. Remember about ten years ago when the state arrested bootleggers right at the same stretch of 29N, just inside city limits? The moonshiners were on their way from the Bedford County area to Baltimore or thereabouts. So why did they pull them over in the one liberal / not moonshiney jurisdiction along the way?

  34. I just came here to post the link—thanks for that.

    I listened to the interview in its entirety over the course of the day, and I’ve reevaluated the guy. I don’t think he’s a jackass—I think he’s a sociopath. Over an hour-long interview, he showed absolutely no ability to understand how normal human beings think and behave. The guy isn’t dumb. He’s just utterly unable to comprehend societal norms, and shows absolutely no curiosity about it. The effect is even worse than the Westboro Baptist Church. They show up at public events, say horrible, horrible things to and about people, and in doing so they acknowledge that it’s to get a rise out of people. This guy shows up in a public space wielding a very threatening-looking weapon specifically to get a reaction from people, and says that he has no idea of why people react at all. He says he has no regrets, and considers the stunt a success. As one caller put it, having the right to do something and doing the right thing are often two different things.

    There was one important point on which he was either being dishonest or simply not thinking clearly. A point that he and a couple of (presumed) confederates on the phone made was that there was nothing at all threatening about what he was doing—that any fool would know that the gun wasn’t being held by the grip, therefore he couldn’t hurt a fly. That’s pure foolishness. If we take his statement at face value, then carrying that rifle was useless, because he couldn’t have defended himself with it. Of course that’s not true. I confess I have not timed myself with either of my own rifles, but I’m pretty sure that I could get it from a slung position into a firing position in a couple of seconds or so. It is likewise obvious to any observer that a rifle can be moved into firing position much more quickly than bystanders are liable to be able to react.

    Anyhow, sociopath. With guns. Good times.

  35. I listened to the interview while driving home yesterday. He had a pleasant manner, but seemed utterly unable to comprehend the ways that others might perceive him–I guess the fact that he was smiling at people in the store was supposed to indicate that he was harmless.

    Rick Moore’s final question was to ask him to consider if he had actually damaged his own cause–because now Kroger has a “no firearms” policy, so people legally carrying concealed weapons will not be able to carry their weapons into Kroger–and he had no answer to the question, other than he hadn’t really thought about it, and that he still thinks his stunt was a success.

  36. I find it problematic that a certain percentage of the gun collectors I know are so reactionary (i,e, poor impulse control), angry, and paranoid. Combined with their spectacularly bad judgement, concealed carry permits, and lust for armor-piercing bullets and mega-sized magazines, this is not a good thing.

    As someone who was raised with guns, and is very proficient with them, I’m well aware of the damage that can be caused if they are in the wrong hands. My personal belief is that gun owners should treat it as a privilege, not a right. The more flag-waving and militia talk I see surrounding this issue, the more wary of gun owners I become. Some militia…

  37. And now we apparently know the perpetrators name. Despite host Rick Moore referring to his guest pseudonymously, “Lawrence” himself gave his name as Karl Bitzer when he read his note on the air. WVTF is also reporting that is what he called himself:

  38. I heard Sandy Hausman’s report, and I briefly puzzled over her mention of his name, saying that he gave his name on air. I completely missed that he’d read his name while reading the note. FWIW, I don’t have anything against the guy wanting to be anonymous, since of course he didn’t break any laws, but the fact that he read his name on-air means that the cat is out of the bag.

  39. I saw a clean-cut young white man with a poorly-lettered cardboard sign bearing the 2nd amendment standing in front of the police station as I drove past the other day; wondered if it was the same fellow.

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