Police: Man seen carrying AR-15 in Abington Township taken for evaluation, rifle confiscated

- Police in Abington Township say they have taken a man into custody on an involuntary mental health warrant after he was seen carrying an AR-15 on his back on several occasions. The weapon has been confiscated by police.

Police Chief Patrick Molloy said on Friday that the man’s decision to exercise his 2nd Amendment right in carrying the rifle openly did not call for an involuntary mental health commitment, but additional information that was received required further action in the interest of public safety.

“Additional information was received which warranted steps to be taken for his safety and the safety of all of our citizens,” Chief Molloy said.

Abington Township Police say they received a message on their Facebook page from friends of the man and alerted them to a change in his behavior that may pose a threat to himself or the public.

Police obtained a search warrant and removed the rifle and other items from the man’s home. No criminal charges have been filed.

Earlier this week the department released a statement to residents saying they had received reports of a suspicious person walking in the area of North Hills, Ardsley, Glenside, and the Abington Shopping Center.

At the time, police said the man had been walking around with the AR-15 on his back in an attempt to draw police officers ‘into a debate or an encounter over his 2nd Amendment rights to carry the weapon in public.

Abington officers have been made aware of the tactic, which police have described as ‘passive-aggressive.’ Molloy says the man filmed an encounter with officers on at least one occasion.

In the statement, police explained that the man’s tactic did not break any laws, but noted that it did cause ‘unnecessary alarm’ to the public and diverted valuable police resources.

"This case illustrates the very complex nature of balancing an individual's 2nd Amendment rights with our primary mission to protect and serve all of our citizens," the department said Friday. 

Molloy reassured residents on Friday that the department’s primary concern was the safety and well-being of Abington residents.

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