The one-liners used in this story are priceless.
I stopped off at a Super Wal-Mart yesterday to buy them out of .223 and .44, which I did, to the tune of several hundred dollars. The woman running the sporting goods counter was very friendly and helpful. I was with two friends at the time, and one of them mentioned that we should spend our Wednesday night cleaning our guns and watching Dirty Harry. Sounded like a perfect night to me!
I was open carrying a 6" S&W 29 at 3 o'clock in a Galco hip holster with jeans and a borrowed, West Virginia university jacket over a white t-shirt. It was snowing at the time and I didn't have a jacket on me, so I was wearing my friend's spare coat. The jacket was tucked behind the holster so the gun was clearly exposed. I do not currently have a CCW, and trying to conceal an N-Frame is nigh impossible anyway. All in all, my appearance suggested early 20's redneck, while my friends were business casual. I usually carry in a button down shirt and nice shoes, but the surprise snow precluded me from doing that.
I paid for my ammunition at the counter and moved to the movie section. We spent about ten minutes searching for Dirty Harry, but, unfortunately, couldn't find it. As a consolation prize, I picked up the Death Wish three-pack, True Grit, The Cowboys, and Rio Bravo. After gathering all of these up, we headed for the front counter to pay for the movies. In my left hand were the bags full of ammunition. My two friends were with me. All of us were relatively clean shaven with short haircuts. Both of them were conceal carrying, Friend One with a HK USPc 9mm in an MTAC and Friend Two carrying a Colt Government 1911 SOB without a holster. He also had a small can of OC spray.
As we reached the front of the store, I looked around for an open lane and saw that the Self Checkout was the best option, as it had no line. I set down my ammunition and scanned the first movie. The screen said "Employee Authorization Needed for Transaction Verification". I looked to the end of the lanes at the counter where they had two women employees overseeing the self check-out, and gave them a look that said, "Hey, I need someone to help me out with this." They gave me a look like they knew what was happening, but didn't say or do anything.
All three of us were standing, looking at the screen and around in the immediate vicinity.
After maybe ten seconds, a dark haired man, approximately 45-55 years old, came from around the backside of the self checkout lane and approached from my 10 o'clock while I was looking towards the women at the oversight counter at the front of the store. He was not wearing a name tag, but had on the Wal-mart blue polo shirt tucked in, jeans, a mustache and glasses. He was about 6'1" and had a small belt case that had either a flashlight or multi-tool, or something along that nature. His hands were empty. He came face-to-face with me at arms-length. I thought he was the guy who would press the buttons to approve my transaction. He spoke.
Wal-Mart guy - "Is there a reason you're carrying that firearm?" With a strong, accusatory tone.
Me - ::Slight pause:: "Yes."
I was pretty shocked at first, because, to that point, I had NEVER been challenged in this particular Wal-Mart, or any other, and I had open carried multiple times.
Wal-Mart guy - "Well then, let's see it. Put it (meaning the gun) on the counter."
Me - "No. I will not remove my gun from its holster."
Wal-Mart guy - "Put it on the counter."
Then, he grabbed me on the left shoulder with his right hand.
Massive adrenaline dump.
I knocked his arm away at the elbow while I took a step back and bladed at a 45 degree angle. My vision tunneled, all I could see was his torso. I was yelling loudly and forcefully, but not at the top of my lungs.
"YOU WILL NOT TOUCH ME! YOU WILL NOT PUT YOUR HANDS ON MY FIREARM"
My hands were out in front of me, palms facing out.
Wal-Mart guy - "Ohhh." Condescending tone.
He came at me again, reaching for my shoulder with his right hand and down and the gun on my right hip with his left. I knocked his hands away and covered the butt of the revolver. My two friends moved in to put some distance between us. He took a half-step back, and was just out of arms length. I was yelling throughout.
"YOU WILL NOT TOUCH MY FIREARM! YOU WILL NOT TOUCH MY FIREARM!"
I could hear my heart thudding in my temples. I was not aware of it, but I knew that we were gathering a crowd.
Wal-Mart guy - "I'm going to call the cops!
Friend 1 - "Sir, it's perfectly legal to carry a firearm in the state of Colorado!"
Wal-Mart guy - "You can't have a gun in here. It has to be unloaded and not in public. I was an ex-cop. I would know."
Wal-Mart - "Get out of here before I call the cops!"
Friend 2 - (to me) - "Hey man, just forget about the movies and lets get out of here."
At this point, my mind was screaming, "DISENGAGE! DISENGAGE! DISENGAGE!" in my head, and Friend 2's suggestion was the first plan of action that fit within that framework. I went for it. But first:
Me - "WHATS YOUR NAME?"
Wal-Mart guy - "XXXXXXX XXXXXXX"
I had the presence of mind to pick up my bag of ammunition and exited the store immediately. We got into Friend 1's car and left.
The entire episode, from Wal-Mart guy's appearance to picking up my bag and heading for the door, took 10-15 seconds.
For the first several minutes after reaching safety, all I could think to myself was, "What an idiot. What an idiot. What an idiot."
In the first ten shaky minutes, we discussed what had happened. I called Wal-Mart's 1-800 number and reported the incident to a very surprised woman, who filed a report and said that someone in management would get back to me by the end of the week. She gave me the number for the District Manager. I have called it multiple times, but it just rings. No answering service, nothing to confirm it's a Wal-Mart number.
I did not call the Police. There was some in-car debate over whether Wal-Mart could prevent me from carrying in the store. By the time we came around to the point that, regardless, NOBODY could put their hands on me, we were several miles away. I was of the opinion that the time to call the Police had passed when we left the premises.
Looking back, they probably noticed I was carrying when I went to the DVDs, and were probably shadowing me, or otherwise setting this guy up to confront me, as I went to the front of the store. I believe I was stalled by the computer at the self checkout on purpose. Let me know if that doesn't make sense.
Now, to head off some of the replies:
0. Yes, I am legally able to open carry in Colorado. The entrance was not signed, and signs are rare in this state as OC is rare. I do believe, though I do not have a letter in my hands confirming it, that Wal-Mart defers to the laws of the state in which its particular store is located with regard to the carry of firearms. I was totally legal in all respects.
1. Yes, I have a low post count. I have been around here for a while. Deal with it. No, I didn't make it up.
2. It all happened so fast. There was no time to think through the situation. I basically went to autopilot. Cliche, I know.
3. No, I did not consider drawing down on him. Taking the .44 out of its holster was the last thing I wanted to happen. Neither of my friends considered drawing down either. The one with the OC did not remember that he had it on him.
4. Yes, I made mistakes. I should have seen him coming. I should have yelled for one of my friends to call 911. I should have stayed and allowed the Police to come and pressed for battery charges on the Wal-Mart guy. Of course, that is what some of you will Monday Morning Quarterback me on. Believe me, I have run through it in my head a hundred times over. In the heat of the moment, I just wanted it to be over.
5. It all happened so fast.
6. I am enrolling in Krav Maga immediately. I should have fended him off much better than I did.
7. I am enrolling in classes at Thunder Ranch or Gunsite.
8. Yes, I haz pics. It will take a few days for me to get them up.
9. No, you would never want this situation to happen to you.
10. I never believed that anyone would go for a take-away on someone OCing until this happened.
11. I am going to get my ccw.
12. I will continue to OC.
I feel bad for the Wal-Mart Guy, who was probably store security, because he took a very foolish and dangerous course of action and, had he tried to do what he did to me to someone else, may have ended up seriously injured or worse. All he had to do was politely let me know that open carry was not allowed in the store, and I would have paid for my DVDs and left. Instead, he probably thought he was dealing with some punk redneck, and would disarm me and then call the Police to haul me off and be the hero of the day. At least, that's what makes sense to me.
I would much rather handle this directly with Wal-Mart. I do not want to involve the justice system, if I can avoid it. However, if they try to blow me off or treat me like I was in the wrong on this, I will make it a much more public and uncomfortable issue for them. All I want is to make sure that Wal-Mart gets the message across to their employees that it is NEVER okay to get physical with a customer, let alone one who just spent hundreds of dollars in their store.
With all that said, does anyone have suggestions on how to pursue this?
ETA: Changed "screaming" to "yelling loudly and forcefully" to reflect what both of my friends stated.