The so-far bloodless battle between open carry advocates and the city of Arlington continued Tuesday evening with a debate over whether guns should be banned at City Council meetings.
Open Carry Tarrant County members, who showed up at Arlington City Hall by the dozens, said no. The Arlington City Council unanimously said yes.
Concealed handguns are already banned from public meetings under state law. The ordinance Arlington passed on a 9-0 vote on Tuesday extended the ban to include all guns (i.e. "any device designed or manufactured to shoot, fire, or otherwise discharge a projectile"), including the rifles, shotguns, or antique pistols that Texans are otherwise allowed to carry in public.
Even before the vote, those carrying firearms were turned away from the council chambers by police, according to the Star-Telegram.
"We have no intention of allowing anyone with a deadly weapon into the council meeting," Arlington PD spokesman Christopher Cook told the paper.
Activists complied, voluntarily stowing their guns in their cars before entering the meeting, just as they had when they attended the council meeting two weeks ago, according to news reports.
Those who made it inside were armed with copies of the Constitution, which they held up as the council debated. Their primary beef -- one they've been airing for weeks -- is against Arlington's ban on passing out literature to passing motorists.
The council doubled down on that measure on Tuesday, voting 8-1 to pass a modified, slightly expanded version of the ban. Cries of "Tyrant!" followed the vote, but the council was inclined to heed the misgivings of Arlington resident Kim Martinez.
During a recent trip to TGI Fridays, she told the council, "a man approached my car to give me literature with a giant gun in his hand. I don't know if it was real or not, but it freaked me out. I don't oppose people's right to carry but I oppose the fact that they can wave their guns around at public intersections and frighten people."
Open Carry Tarrant County leader Kory Watkins countered by referencing the First Amendment.
"First and foremost, anybody's feelings does not triumph my rights," he told WFAA. "If we start wondering how people feel, we are going to be in a world of trouble trying to legislate morality."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.