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More harm than good

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June 1, 2014 by falcon7204

In Texas, there is currently a debate over openly carrying firearms in public. The law states that homeowners and property owners can openly carry on their property or in their home, but as of right now only long guns (rifles, shotguns, etc.) can be legally carried in plain view. Supporters of a group called Open Carry Texas hope to change that. There is legislation pending in Austin (HB 700, introduced during the last regular session in 2013) that would allow anyone who legally owns a firearm AND possesses a concealed handgun license (CHL) to openly carry a handgun, but the law as currently written (Title 10, Section 46 in particular) does not permit CHL holders to wear their sidearm in a holster unless they are members of law enforcement.

The group Open Carry Texas, and one of its satellites, Open Carry Tarrant County, want the Legislature to pass open carry, and they hold rallies across the state in support of that legislation. Many times, they gather in parking lots (after alerting local law enforcement), carry signs and distribute literature in support of their cause. Oh, and they also sling their rifles (sometimes AR-15s, sometimes deer rifles, sometimes shotguns) over their shoulders.

(Full disclosure: I am a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, but I do not own a gun because there are small children in and out of the house on a frequent basis. The Texas law does provide criminal penalties for not securing a firearm in a house where a child can get to it, and besides, I believe if you can’t adequately secure it, you shouldn’t have it, and if you have to secure it to the point where it’s unusable you shouldn’t have it because you waste valuable time getting to it in an emergency. No flaming, please; that’s personal preference.)

Many people are more than just mildly alarmed at the sight of a group of armed men and women gathering in a parking lot or on a street corner. They are obviously not aware of the law in Texas, but even if they were it would still be a bit disconcerting. The first question many folks ask is why? And they’re afraid to approach the group to ask it, even though they appear otherwise unthreatening and are handing out literature for information and education. This has frightened citizens of Arlington so much that the city has passed an ordinance forbidding the handing out of flyers on street corners and in parking lots. Note they cannot forbid the open carrying of long guns except on city-owned property and on property where the owner has expressly forbidden it … but at the same time, parking lots and street corners are considered city-owned property, so they’re able to enforce the ban without really enforcing the ban against long guns.

As you can imagine, Open Carry Texas and OCTC have redoubled their efforts to get information out about the open carry bill … but in my humble opinion, they’re doing their cause more harm than good. Even other Second Amendment supporters have suggested to OCT to lighten up a bit and back off, saying there are better ways to bring awareness to your cause than by frightening people into going the other way. And the businesses they have encountered (by now you’ve heard of the Chipotle incident, no doubt, and the Fort Worth Jack-in-the-Box thing) have listened to the will of their customers (2A supporters would say “kowtowed to the anti-gun lobby”) and banned long guns in their establishments. For them, it’s a no-win situation because they either lose revenue from anti-gun advocates or they lose revenue from 2A supporters.

It seems to me that some in OCT and OCTC are using not-so-subtle intimidation tactics to get their point across, even though their initial attempt was to inform. I know you could probably talk to more than a dozen OCT members and they would tell you that such is not their intent, but my response to them would be, why do you feel the need to bring your rifles out in an attempt to prove your point? Many people in Texas are afraid of guns, pure and simple. By slinging their rifles over their shoulder, they risk alienating the very people they’re trying to inform and educate, and when it comes to passing weapons legislation (even in a supposedly “red” Legislature) the groups are doing more harm than good to their cause. OCT supporters need to try a different tactic.

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