Yakima, WA — A felony assault charge was filed against the man who attacked a Wal-Mart shopper with a baseball bat. The victim, 32-year-old Brandon Walker, was shopping with three children while lawfully openly carrying a handgun on his person. Police say he was the victim of an unprovoked assault by Trevor Zumwalt who struck him with a metal bat. According to statements, Walker and Zumwalt did not know each other and did not exchange any words before Zumwalt attacked Walker. It seems that Zumwalt, at 5 feet, 6 inches, attacked much larger Walker at 6 foot, 1 inch and 360 pounds because he was openly carrying a firearm.
It’s a strange case. Imagine you’re Walker, taking your son to buy a baseball bat. You imagine it’s going to be a quick trip in and out of the store. It’s hot, so you decide to leave your jacket – which normally conceals your handgun – in your car, and then are attacked with a bat. Video from the store’s security system shows Zumwalt pick up a metal bat from a rack and struck Walker in the shoulder. Walker said he drew his .357 Sig Sauer handgun and ordered Zumwalt to the floor. Walker kept the gun on Zumwalt, asking store employees to call police, and he holstered his gun only when officers arrived.
According to an interview with Bearing Arms, Walker said the only thing that makes sense is that he was attacked because of openly carrying his handgun. Mr. Walker believes that Zumwalt may have wanted to take the firearm. Bearing Arms also reported that one of Zumwalt’s friends “contacted Mr. Walker via Facebook, and thanked him for showing restraint. According to her [Zumwalt] has long had a history of mental illness, and has never gotten the help that he needs.”
Open carry is lawful in Washington state. Concealed carry is licensed on what is known as a “shall-issue” basis, meaning Washington state will grant a license to anyone who passes the FBI background check. The background check is used to verify there is no legal reason to bar firearm possession, like prior felony convictions. Walker had a concealed carry weapon (CCW) license, which wasn’t necessary since it is lawful to openly carry without one. Walker, who normally carries concealed, says that he will not open carry again. He said he already has a firearm picked out for the summer months ahead, and from now on, he’ll only open carry at the gun range.
Debate runs within the gun community over whether to open-carry or concealed-carry firearms in public. Walker said he thought it was going to be a quick shopping trip, but it ended up being potentially serious by being targeted ostensibly because he was openly carrying. Open carry advocates say they like to open carry to reduce stigma of carrying, and to reduce potential for crime on the reasoning that a criminal is less likely to attempt a crime where people are openly carrying firearms. Advocates of concealed carry say it helps the individual maintain anonymity precisely so that they don’t stand out as a target while keeping the tactical advantages of being armed combined with the element of surprise should they need to draw their firearm.
What do you say?