We’ve covered the clashes between open carry advocates and their opponents before, and we’re pretty confident that the two sides’ entrenched positions are clear to everyone—advocates say that they have the legal right to carry long arms in Texas and that people should feel safer knowing that stable, law-abiding people are armed in public to protect them from potential criminals, while opponents argue that the sight of weapons in public makes people feel unsafe.
Of course, nothing says “stable” and “safe” like a guy in a banana suit, which is probably why Derek Poe, the owner of Beaumont’s Golden Triangle Tactical (who himself was charged with disorderly conduct for carrying an AR-15 on his back while walking through Parkdale Mall, where his shop was located) hired someone to don a bright yellow banana costume and stand at the Eastex Freeway by Highway 105 on Saturday with an AK-47 loaded with a fifty-clip magazine.
Derek Poe, owner of Golden Triangle Tactical, told 12News Saturday that it was part of the store’s grand opening after moving locations from Parkdale Mall.
Poe said the man in the banana suit was holding an AK-47 across his back with the barrel pointing down and holding a sign with an arrow pointing toward the store. He said this idea was to attract customers to the store.
A Beaumont police spokesperson said officers temporarily detained the 18-year-old and found he had the rifle with a drum magazine attached with at least a 50-round capacity. The spokesperson said the teen was cited for violating a city ordinance that prohibits soliciting in and alongside roadways.
It’s worth noting that the young man in the banana suit wasn’t cited for disorderly conduct or anything else that would suggest that the gun was the reason—which should keep a bit of a lid on the culture-war aspect of this. Still, it’s a curious development in the ostensible PR battle over open carry that’s been going on for a long time now. Open carry advocates’ argument hinges largely on the notion that people should feel safer around them, as they keep criminals at bay. But it’s hard to imagine that the sight of a person dressed up like a giant banana with an AK-47 strapped to his back is the image an advocate like Poe has decided to put forth.
Of course, at the moment, the social media channels for neither the Open Carry Texas organization nor surprising new open carry advocate Wendy Davis have commented on the arrest, so maybe they’re not bananas over the image, either.