As the United States contemplates its right to carry firearms, gun advocates stoke the fears which could see the 2020 presidential race become a referendum on the Second Amendment.
As the United States fights a bitter battle over its right to bear arms, a Missouri man’s decision to test the Second Amendment by wielding a loaded tactical rifle inside a Walmart outlet has struck at the heart of the nation’s gun woes.
Dmitriy Andreychenko sparked fear and panic when he entered the retailer, decked out in body armour, just days after the back-to-back deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio killed 31 people.
Local police say the 20-year-old claimed he was at the business to buy grocery bags and did not intend to cause harm. The young man is reported to have also questioned why his community reacted in such fashion.
“This is Missouri, I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out” the interviewing officer recalls Andreychenko saying.
Prosecutor Dan Patterson conceded that while the residents of Springfield are allowed to carry weapons, "that right does not allow an individual to act in a reckless and criminal manner endangering other citizens."
For Andreychenko’s self-confessed "social experiment" he is now facing the possibility of a felony charge of making a terrorist threat in the second degree. He is also subject to up to four years behind bars and a fine of nearly $15,000 should he be convicted.
The stunt comes at a time when the United States is firmly on edge, rocked by a spate of mass shootings and deep ideological division over the right to access and carry firearms.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, the Ohio massacre was the 251st mass shooting in 2019 and occurred on the 216th day of the year, meaning there has been, on average, more than one incident each day.
For the Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls, a wide range of reforms have been put forward. From firearm licensing to re-imposing a ban on assault weapons, Democrats are positioning gun control as a central issue in the race for the White House.
Frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden is advocating for re-imposing bans on assault weapons.
"I did that in 1994," Mr Biden told a crowd of gun control activists and survivors in Iowa, referring to a vote that was passed while he was a US senator. "We can do that again".
Nominee Elizabeth Warren told the same group if she became president, one of her first actions would be to break "the stranglehold of the gun industry and the NRA".
Other lawmakers are calling for ‘red flag’ gun laws while others believe expanded background checks are the answer.
The US President is open to both concepts but argues he will need to receive input from the powerful National Rifle Association.
Top Democrats including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have urged Donald Trump to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to recall the Senate to vote on expanding background checks. It’s a reform which already received the greenlight in the House earlier this year.
In a joint statement, the Democrat leaders say "The President gave us his assurances that he would review the bipartisan House-passed legislation and understood our interest in moving as quickly as possible to help save lives.”
Donald Trump’s reform efforts will be scrutinised heavily, not just for his assurance that he is the “biggest Second Amendment person there is.”
The President is certain he can find common ground in the debate, but stands by his claim that mental health issues and hate, not guns, is ultimately responsible for the bloodshed that has become all too familiar.
Reassuring a nation in fear, while meeting the interests of the gun lobby will prove a tricky task, even for a leader famed for his skill in the art of the deal.