Personal Liberty Poll
The National Rifle Association is warning gun rights supporters that recent controversy surrounding the activism of open carry advocates in the Lone Star State could provide fodder for anti-2nd Amendment groups looking to place new restrictions on responsible gun owners.
“Here at NRA, we are big fans of responsible behavior … legal mandates, not so much. We think the Founders of this country were right to trust its people with the freedom to make their own choices,” the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a recent open letter to supporters. “We also think they were wise to build checks into our constitutional system so that one view could not easily dominate the others and so that officials could be held accountable for their decisions.”
For every poor decision that gun owners make, the letter goes on, there are consequences.
“These consequences could be simple and transitory, such as watching a trophy buck bound away into the woods after a missed shot from an improperly sighted rifle,” NRA-ILA said. “They could also be lasting and consequential, such as turning an undecided voter into an antigun voter because of causing that person fear or offense.”
In Texas, there are no restrictions on openly carrying long arms in public. But the NRA believes that this will change due to a recent string of incidents involving open-carry activists gathering in public while open carrying in an impractical manner.
We reported on one incident that occurred in the State late last month:
Open carry activists have been in the headlines since a group of gun-wielding 2nd Amendment supporters dined at a Chipotle in Dallas, allegedly making some customers and employees in the restaurant uncomfortable.
“We had all different types of long-guns, some people had shot guns. I personally carry an AK-47,” Alex Clark, an Open Carry Texas member who attended the lunch, told a CBS. “There were a few AR-15′s there. The rifles were loaded. There’s no reason to carry an unloaded weapon — it wouldn’t do any good.”
After hyperbolic reports of the pro-gun demonstration made the Internet rounds, Chipotle released a statement asking customers not to open carry in its restaurants in the future.
Since then, Texas open carry activists have provided more fodder for the anti-gun left. In a video that was floating around the Internet last week, activists confront and follow a man claiming to be a Marine veteran who exercised his 1st Amendment rights by complaining to activists gathered at a busy intersection in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Instead of brushing off his foul language and sending the man on his way, however, one of the armed activists followed the man, declaring, “I’m following this guy around.”
In a later interview, the man in the video explained that he is not anti-gun — but doesn’t feel the open carry activists are accomplishing anything for their cause.
“I’m all for responsible gun owners,” he said. “What I was taught was not to wear it around like a gold chain. What they’re doing is irresponsible. It intimidates the public, and people have just as much right to be comfortable in their public environment as these guys have a right to own their firearms.”
The argument over whether the mere sight of a rifle in public is “intimidating” doesn’t really matter in this case. The confrontational tones from both sides of the argument in the video provide reason to question the common sense of the gun rights activist who felt it was a good idea to follow the man around.
And even the leaders of Texas open carry groups are getting worried that members are pushing the limits.
Open Carry Texas said in a joint statement with other regional pro-gun groups:
We ask that members take a step back and make an objective assessment of what we are trying to accomplish and help us to get open carry passed for everyone. We must be willing and able to recognize what works and what doesn’t, but we need your help to make these efforts a success. It will be very difficult to spin holstered, black powder revolvers into a negative story. This is the goal we are currently striving for, open carry of handguns. We know everyone is working hard for this cause. It is simply time to focus on what has been proven to work. The conversation has shifted from open carry of handguns to rifles in businesses, negating our efforts and distracting us from our mission.
That’s also the crux of the NRA’s message to Texas open carry advocates who continue to make headlines by getting kicked out of once gun-friendly establishments.
From the organization’s letter to supporters:
[W]hile 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.
Read the NRA’s letter in full.