Last Thursday, a large group of pro-gun advocates gathered in front of an AutoZone in York County, Virginia, to protest the store’s firearms policy after an employee was fired for confronting an armed robber with his own handgun.
On Nov. 16, Devin McLean was working at the AutoZone store on Hampton Highway when the notorious ‘Fake Beard Bandit’ walked in toting a gun.
Yes, in case you’re wondering, that’s the robber’s real nickname; according to authorities, he’s connected to more than 30 robberies on the Peninsula.
McLean, an Air Force veteran and licensed concealed carry permit holder, snuck out the back of the store to retrieve his .40 caliber pistol from his vehicle while old ‘Fake Beard’ held his co-worker at gunpoint.
When McLean re-entered the Autozone, he confronted ‘Fake Beard’ who immediately fled the scene, with no cash or merchandize. No shots were fired and no one was injured.
Unfortunately, ‘Fake Beard’ is still on the loose.
Following the incident, McLean was lauded as a hero – not only by gun owners and his fellow employees, but also by local law enforcement.
“I think what he did was a very brave thing,” said York-Poquoson Sheriff Danny Diggs in a recent Daily Press interview.
McLean also spoke with reporters, expressing humility for the community support he’s received and downplaying his heroic response to what was undoubtedly a precarious situation.
“The initial training for the military instilled those core values. One is service before self, that kind of played a role in it, it kind of put my own life on the backburner for another man’s life,” said McLean.
“I think anyone put into that situation would react the same way,” he continued.
Pretty much everyone was impressed with McLean’s actions, save one: his corporate employer, AutoZone – which has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy with respect to firearms at work.
Upon learning of what had transpired, an AutoZone district manager fired McLean.
Everyone was taken aback by this decision, even Sheriff Diggs, who described it as “flawed.”
In response to McLean’s firing, approximately 40 pro-gun advocates belonging to the Virginia Citizens Defense League held a protest on Dec. 13 in front of the AutoZone store chain, some were holding signs that read, “Zero Tolerance = Zero Intelligence.”
The group’s goal is to pressure the auto parts retailer into rethinking its firearms policy.
As for McLean, he said he wouldn’t go back to AutoZone.
“Working for AutoZone, I don’t think I could do it anymore looking at their morals and their values, obviously they are not valuing someone’s life,” Mclean said in an interview with News Channel 3 (WTKR).
Indeed. And as consumers, it might be wise for all of us to start shopping exclusively (when possible) at stores that are explicitly gun friendly, especially given recent events.