If white supremacist protesters want to defend the Confederate monuments at the Texas Capitol, they're going to have to do so without their tiki torches. With one notable exception, the Texas Department of Public Safety is doing everything it can to prevent violent protests at the Capitol in 2018, banning a long list of items from the pink granite building's premises, effective immediately.
Among the items on the list are hammers, improvised shields and drones. Among the items still allowed — guns, as long as whoever's carrying is "authorized under License to Carry authority," according to a DPS press release.
"These measures are aimed at preventing violent confrontations during protests and demonstrations; maintaining order; and protecting all Capitol visitors from injury or infringement of constitutional rights," the department said.
Here are some items that could start violent confrontations, according to the state's full list:
- Firearms and other deadly weapons, except when authorized under License to Carry authority
- Improvised items used to lock a person to another person or object
- Plastic bottles containing alcohol or nonconsumable substances
- Open-flame torches
- Metal signs
- Metal, plastic and wood objects longer than 12 inches
- Sticks or other objects with protruding nails
- Balloons not filled with air, oxygen or helium
- Bricks, stones or rocks
- Projectile launchers, including water cannons
- Spray paint cans
- Gas masks or similar equipment
- Glass bottles
- Toxic fluid, gas or solids in any container
- Improvised shields
- Pepper spray
So Tasers are a hard no, as are glass bottles, sticks longer than 12 inches and pepper spray, but guns are cool, as long as you go through the state's rudimentary training course.
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The department did not respond to a phone call and an email from the Observer on Thursday about an obvious question: Does the language about guns mean long guns are banned from the capitol, too?
Texas' 2015 open-carry law allows anyone with what was previously a concealed handgun license to carry a handgun openly. It allows private businesses and select government entities to ban carrying a handgun onto their property, but it doesn't address the open carrying of long guns, something that's never been illegal in the state. Update Jan. 12, 9:56 a.m. — According to an email the Observer just received from the Department of Public Safety, long guns were already banned from the capitol grounds. So, basically, there's no change in the new directive's firearm policy.
In addition to the banned items list, counterprotesters at the capitol are now required to exercise their constitutional rights "at a distance sufficient to avoid physical altercations," with whatever group is protesting.