FOLLY BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA — When a gas station clerked asked a man to show some identification before he allowed him to purchase beer, he was greeted by the cold hard steel of the man’s loaded pistol. Claiming to work for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Zachary Pinkerton, 23, fled the store after drawing his handgun.
The suspect told police he only drew his gun to prove he was 21 years of age. The clerk interpreted that action as proving he was unfit to carry a gun in the first place. Add that to the claim Pinkerton told the clerk he was with SLED and we have a front-runner for dumbest blunder of the year.
Pinkerton was detained as he attempted to flee the scene. According to ABC 4 News, a Folly Beach police officer saw him leaving the store and grabbed him by the arm. He told Pinkerton he was being detained.
Pinkerton was found in possession of marijuana and cocaine as well as a loaded .380 ACP pistol. He did not have a permit to carry concealed — a requirement in South Carolina. His charges include pointing a firearm, carrying concealed without a permit, impersonating a sworn officer of the law, and possession of drugs with intent to distribute.
His bail was set at a cool $25,000, which really underlies the actual gravity of the charges against him. If convicted, he faces a good long stint in prison.
This is not an example of a law-abiding citizen making the simple mistake to carry without a permit. This is an example of a bad guy who didn’t need to be in possession of a gun but just hadn’t been caught, yet. The good thing about this case is Pinkerton was so stupid as to add a nice, iron-clad felony to the bottom bullet list of infractions. Impersonating an officer of the law is a serious crime. It’s not one that police tend to take lightly.
The only thing going for him is he didn’t resist arrest. That’s the first and last thing he did right that night.
Pinkerton is an example of one of those cases anti-gun lobbyists love to tote around in their back pocket when they need to bring up a bad guy with a gun. Pinkerton is what we’ll call a “boogey man”. He’s a guy slinging dope on the wrong side of the law but just hasn’t yet gotten a prior conviction worthy enough to keep him from possessing a gun.
The gas station clerk did the right thing. He reported him. If another concealed carrier had been on scene, he likely would have been stuck in the real bad predicament of making the call about whether Pinkerton’s claim of being a law enforcement officer was legitimate or not.
That is a very tough space to be in. It’s also a reminder that unless violent action is being taken in one of these “gray area” events, the concealed carrier’s job is to stand down, take cover, and let police handle it.
If Pinkerton was, for some off-hand reason, an actual undercover or plainclothes officer, there would have been hell to pay if another law-abiding citizen interpreted his actions as a threat. The chances of that timeline existing are slim but it’s something the average gun owner needs to be aware of.
Don’t let idiots talk for the rest of us. The vast majority of gun owners in this country are law-abiding, decent people who legitimately care about their own health and well-being. This guy represents a small outlier of legal gun owners who will, with time, prove they’re too irresponsible to own or carry.