Melinda Henneberger

Walking around Walmart with a rifle is legal — and shows insanity of Missouri gun laws

Two men lacking the common sense God gave a garden slug strolled into a Kansas City Walmart with a rifle and a handgun on Sunday and, whew, were promptly taken into custody. But under this state’s laws, police later said they’d done nothing illegal.

Which only shows how unholstered and unhinged Missouri’s gun laws and their makers really are.

Every time there’s a mass shooting, we hear from Republican legislators that the answer to gun violence is more and better treatment for mental illness. (Pssst: If you really believed this, wouldn’t you expand Medicaid, which does just that?)

What’s certifiably insane, though, is that an 8-year-old shot in his bed doesn’t strike lawmakers as any reason to rethink legislation that has made our streets and homes more dangerous. Four teenagers were shot at the Sheraton Suites Country Club Plaza hotel over the weekend, and we’re more likely to outlaw underage room service than to reverse the repeal of gun regulations that weren’t a panacea but did help.

That 20-year-old in full tactical gear who strutted around the Springfield, Missouri, Walmart with a long rifle did prove a point, even if it was not the one he intended to make.

Dmitriy Andreychenko seems to have wanted to make sure that his right to behave irresponsibly remained intact. Mission accomplished, Ace. According to him, he even called ahead to make sure Walmart was all good with his appearance as an action star in his own mind.

But what he, too, really demonstrated was the absurdity of our laws. Open carry and concealed carry are legal in Missouri for anyone 19 and up.

Naturally, shoppers were terrified, and Andreychenko was charged with making a terrorist threat. That’s because open carry is legal “unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner.” We won’t be seeing many black or brown boys pulling a stunt like this, will we?

The man who held this dumbnik at gunpoint until the police arrived “was able to see that I wasn’t threatening anyone and didn’t shoot me, so praise God for that,” Andreychenko said.

As he sees it, his only real mistake was that his timing was off so soon after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

“I didn’t give it a thought,” he said, and I believe him.

When will our elected officials decide to give some thought to what’s happened since Missouri began dismantling its gun regulations a dozen years ago?

In 2007, the legislature stopped making anyone buying a handgun go through a background check in person at the sheriff’s office.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found that in the first six years after the state repealed that requirement, Missouri’s gun homicide rate rose by 16% — even as the national rate declined by 11%. The kind of law Missouri repealed is considered the single most effective way to keep those who really shouldn’t have guns from getting them. In the decade after Connecticut passed such a law, gun murders went down by 40%.

The gun death rate has increased steadily in Missouri during the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2013, Missouri had the second-highest gun murder rate in the country, after Louisiana. But there was still room for improvement, so we got the “right to bear arms” amendment and expanded the concealed carry law.

No wonder the number of gun deaths just keeps increasing, or that three of the most dangerous cities in the country are in Missouri. As of August 11, there had been 90 homicides in Kansas City so far this year, and more than 300 people shot.

Maybe our new mayor, Quinton Lucas, is as some have said setting himself up to fail by announcing the goal of getting under 100 gun deaths a year, but the real failure would be not to try.

Or, as Gov. Mike Parson has done, to mouth words without any meaning in response to this crisis. “I think we need to look at all things,” he said last week. “Whether that means more law enforcement on the ground, whether that means the mental health side of it, whether that means social media today…”

With the NRA preoccupied with internal scandals, the amount of courage required to roll back some of our rollbacks on guns would be modest. But like Dmitriy Andreychenko, those with the power to change our laws don’t seem to give the consequences of their recklessness much thought.

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