Earlier this month, two men decided to wander into a crowded farmers market in Appleton, Wisconsin each with an AR-15 assault rifle strapped across their back. They did not make it to the market. After several residents called 911, expressing concerns about the two gun-toting men. Police briefly detained the men, with at least one officer drawing his weapon after they determined that the assault rifles were real. The men were briefly handcuffed and detained but were eventually released without citations.
Although open carry is legal in Wisconsin, police say they stopped the men to prevent a panic — “walking into a farmers market filled with a couple thousand individuals would be a recipe for disaster.” Yet the a county attorney told the Appleton Post-Crescent that the men could not be charged because “they had not made it to the farmers market” at the point when they were stopped and the men are reportedly considering a lawsuit against the police. In video of the men’s encounter with the police, one of the men tells an officer that they are carrying a highly visible pair of assault rifles into a crowded public market for “self defense.”
This stunt is only the latest example of individuals carrying assault rifles into public places in an apparent attempt to make a statement about their understanding of the Second Amendment. Last month, a Texas preacher named Terry Holcomb videoed himself walking into several businesses, including a Wal Mart, with an AR-15 across his back. Earlier this year, a Utah man carried a similar weapon into a JC Penney — claiming that he need it to protect from “criminals, cartels, drug lords” and other “evil men.”