Open Carry Texas and its most active local offshoot, Open Carry Tarrant County, have succeeded marvelously in their quest to mercilessly troll gun-control advocates. Whether they've made any progress toward their stated aim of legalizing openly carried handguns in Texas, however, is another matter.
The National Rifle Association, for one, thinks it may be counterproductive. In a blog post, NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, the most powerful pro-gun group in America, wrote that demonstrating with assault rifles in Chipotle and Home Depot parking lots may be hurting the push for expanded Second Amendment rights.
Now we love AR-15s and AKs as much as anybody, and we know that these sorts of semiautomatic carbines are among the most popular, fastest selling firearms in America today. Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn't ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity. Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this.
Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here). In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that's counterproductive for the gun owning community.
More to the point, it's just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That's not the Texas way. And that's certainly not the NRA way.
Open Carry Texas responded with a bitter rebuttal, accusing the NRA of being a weak-kneed defender of the gun-phobic status quo:
The NRA has lost its relevance and sided with #guncontrolextremists and their lapdog media. No one in NRA leadership has ever been to an OCT event, but feels competent to speak out against them. Keep in mind, the NRA has done nothing in Texas to get open carry passed to this point and continues to fight it in our state. After all, they make money through licensing schemes of our rights, so unlicensed open carry hurts their bottom line.
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This claim isn't exactly true. Two months ago the NRA's main Texas lobbyist spoke before the state Senate's Rural Affairs & Homeland Security Committee as it debated whether to ease gun laws in Texas. Matter of fact, she addressed the committee immediately before Open Carry Texas founder CJ Grisham took the podium.
In her testimony, she made the NRA's position on openly carried handguns abundantly clear:
"I think everybody should have that right."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.