When one South Range resident wants to get a little exercise, he straps his semi-automatic rifle across his back and takes a stroll through downtown Houghton.
“It’s an AK-47 variant. It’s a semi-automatic version of the AK-47, which is completely legal,” said 38-year-old Adam Neal, who has been legally carrying his weapon with him while he takes his walks for several years.
Neal says he is always happy to talk with people who want to have a discussion about gun rights and safety, but insists that he is not trying to make any political statement. “I’m just out on a walk,” he said. “If people want to ask me questions, I welcome that. That is completely fine with me. I will answer any questions that anybody has, but as far as making a statement goes, I’m not out here making a statement. I’m not out here protesting anything. I’m just out here for a walk.”
“Not touching (the gun), not waving it around—you don’t want to mess with it at all because that can be construed as brandishing. You can adjust it on your shoulder if it is slipping off your shoulder but you just don’t want to mess with it, that’s the main thing.”
Neal says he is aware that openly carrying a firearm causes a stir with local police receiving numerous calls over the years from concerned citizens, but since he is careful to follow the law, he usually doesn’t have any problems.
“Their fear is out of ignorance of the law and if they knew the law, they would notice that I’m not doing anything violent,” said Neal. “I’m not causing a scene. I’m actually telling people ‘Hello’ as I walk by, waving to people, answering questions. So, unless you see somebody with a gun in their hands running down the road, you shouldn’t really be fearful but I am glad that people are aware. I don’t want people walking around unaware of their surroundings so I’d rather somebody see me with a gun, call the cops, learn that I’m doing something that’s okay than to not notice somebody who has a gun who might not be doing something totally legal.”
With mass shootings making national headlines seemingly more frequently, Neal understands why people react they way they do when they see him but says he does not time his walks to follow such events.
“I don’t pay attention to the news or anything so if I happen to go on a walk and there happened to be a mass shooting recently, that was a coincidence. It’s not purposefully done. I’m not doing it to invoke fear in people because of that but bad guys with guns are only stopped by good guys with guns, whether that be a police officer or somebody who is concealed carrying or open carrying,” Neal said.
Neal said he has successfully passed a background check and can legally openly carry his weapon in public.