Imagine for a minute that you’re in your local grocery store, perhaps perusing the canned veggies to re-stock your pantry after the holidays, when suddenly you encounter a man wearing body armour and carrying or wearing all of these …
What do you do? If your heart doesn’t stop, I imagine you abandon your cart of groceries and head for the nearest exit, perhaps stopping to inform a member of the staff that there is a heavily armed terrorist in aisle 8, then when you are safely outside and close to your car, you dial 9-1-1.
It happened in Atlanta, Georgia in March 2021. A 22-year-old man, Rico Marley, was discovered in the restroom of a Publix supermarket with one of the rifles leaning against the wall, the others on his person or in his hands. A delivery driver had entered the restroom, quickly assessed the situation, and exited quickly in search of the store manager to report what he had seen. Quick thinking led to Mr. Marley being arrested moments later as he exited the restroom, clothed in body armour with four loaded handguns in his pockets and a rifle and a shotgun, both loaded, in a guitar bag.
Two days earlier in Boulder, Colorado, a 21-year-old man went on a shooting spree in a King Soopers grocery store, killing ten people.
Common sense and logic would tell you that there is no good reason for Rico Marley to have carried six fully loaded lethal weapons into a grocery store, nor for him to be wearing body armour. None! While it is often said that we cannot assume a person’s intent, it seems quite obvious to me that he intended to emulate the actions of the Boulder shooter. Why else would he have come fully armed and ‘loaded for bear’ into a place where people are doing naught more than trying to buy food to feed their families?
But the law doesn’t always follow the same logical patterns that my mind does. Prosecutors initially went all in on Mr. Marley’s case, charging him with 11 felonies: five counts of criminal attempt to commit a felony and six counts of possession of a weapon “during commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies.” But alas … the following February all charges were dropped, and Marley was released from jail because, as his attorney, Charles Brant argued, he had not made any threats or fired any shots and had legally purchased his guns. Mr. Marley did not violate Georgia law, Mr. Brant said; he was “just being a person, doing what he had the right to do.”
So … let me get this straight. The rights of a person to arm themselves to the teeth in public supersede my rights to enter a grocery store and safely buy food for my family? Only in America do the laws protect gun owners far more than law-abiding people going about their business. Only in America.
All but three of the fifty states have laws that allow open carry, meaning that everywhere except Illinois, Florida and California, it is perfectly legal to walk the streets, enter a grocery store or church or movie theater with a loaded gun in hand. Isn’t it ironic that while our voting rights are being drawn tighter, making it more difficult than ever to cast a vote in some states, gun rights are being made ever broader? While women are being stripped of their rights to make their own medical decisions, people are being given expanded rights to terrorize and intimidate with lethal weapons?
Methinks the people of this country who elect the lawmakers have a skewed set of priorities.