VANCOUVER, Wash. – One man believes he’s within his rights to openly carry a gun in a mall, but almost two months after the Clackamas Town Center Shooting, that belief triggers an immediate gut reaction for many.
But how do Derek Mendiola’s rights stand up against a store’s right to kick him out?
Mendiola says his weapon does draw glances in public, but he says he means no harm and meant no harm at the Sears in Vancouver Westfield Shopping Center on Wednesday when he stopped in to look at some tools.
He went in wearing his 9 mm Taurus pistol on his shoulder. He says he was surprised how an employee took issue with his gun and started verbally attacking him for having it.
“For somebody to harass me for just following my rights is a pretty big deal. It’s just like telling me, I can’t breathe air, I can’t live,” he said.
He claims he would have been perfectly happy to leave if he’d simply been asked politely to do so.
He said he wears it outside his clothing because “if you have it tucked in, it’s considered concealed and then if you don’t have a concealed permit that is illegal.”
Mall general manager Paige Moreau said she was aware of the incident. She said the mall’s code of conduct prohibits firearms in the mall. But she couldn’t confirm whether that rule was posted anywhere inside the mall. KATU News did not observe any signs posted Thursday prohibiting firearms and couldn’t find a notice posted on the mall’s website.
Washington’s open carry law allows gun owners to legally carry their weapons in plain sight. But Moreau said the mall is private property, so it’s allowed to make these rules.
Washington gun rights expert and author, Dave Workman, says she’s right. But a simple sign or two would help.