Photos of man shopping with rifle at Utah J.C. Penney go viral
Cindy Yorgason was in line at the J.C. Penney in Riverdale on Wednesday when she looked up and saw a shopper with "a large gun."
Yorgason said the rifle was slung across the back of the man in front of her. When she looked closer, she saw that he also had extra ammunition clips and a sidearm in a holster on his right hip.
"It wasn't small," Yorgason said of the pistol.
Amid a "lot of raised eyebrows" Yorgason quickly snapped a pair of photos, which she said have been going viral on Facebook ever since. She also said the first store clerkwhom the man approached refused to serve him, and everyone in the vicinity "wanted to get away."
On Thursday, 22-year-old Joseph Kelley identified himself as the man in Yorgason's pictures. Kelley described himself as a firm believer in Second Amendment rights and said he decided to bring the guns to the store to demonstrate that they are not dangerous in the hands of law-abiding citizens.
According to Kelley, the rifle was an unloaded AR-15 and the handgun was a loaded Glock 19C. He said he has a concealed-carry permit, is a former member of the military and contacted police dispatch before leaving his home to tell them about his plans. Kelley also said he was told that he was "well within his rights" and that bystanders' reactions were positive.
"I felt no negative vibes from anyone," Kelley said. "I think it went rather surprisingly well."
Kelley added that he carries weapons to protect children and other people from "criminals, cartels, drug lords" and other "evil men."
Yorgason said the man's behavior was in "poor taste."
"I thought that he was pretty much an idiot," Yorgason said. "You do not need to do something like this even if you are against any potential bans."
Store manager Darin Vandehei said it was the first time in his 20 years at J.C. Penney that something like that had happened. Vandehei said he was looking into the incident but declined to comment further. He did not provide information about any gun policies at the store.
Jason Chapman, the firearms supervisor for the Utah Department of Public Safety, said a person with a concealed-carry permit may carry a loaded gun publicly. Permit holders are not required to conceal their guns. People without permits are only allowed to carry unloaded weapons in public, Chapman said.
Utah law makes concealed-carry permits available to adults who complete a gun class, an application and a background check.