One of the motives behind Texas open carriers walking around with rifles in restaurants and out in public was to raise awareness of the fact that it’s illegal to open carry handguns in the state. You can open carry long guns, but not handguns. These gun activists want to be able to open carry handguns, and they’ve been fighting for the passage of a law that would allow it. The LA Times reported:
Texas may be one of the most pro-gun states in America, with more than 825,000 licensed to carry concealed handguns, but it remains one of six states without open-carry handgun laws on the books, which has led to impassioned, gun-toting protests at the Capitol, Starbucks, Home Depot and other public places in Texas. With conservative Republicans ascendant in the Legislature, open-carry activists believe a gun bill will become law, but opponents say their antics show why it shouldn’t pass.
It is legal in Texas to openly carry rifles and other long guns. But Texas barred the open carrying of handguns 125 years ago, in the wake of the Civil War, as a way to disarm Confederate sympathizers.
More than two dozen gun-related bills have been filed in Texas this legislative session. One would allow adults to publicly tote a pistol without a license; another would require them to pass the same criminal background check for a concealed handgun license.
Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Fort Worth-area Republican, proposed the unlicensed open-carry proposal, which he calls “constitutional carry.”
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said open-carry legislation is likely to pass. In his state of the state address this month, Abbott vowed to “expand liberty in Texas by signing a law that makes Texas the 45th state to allow open carry.”
Opponents said gun rights activists’ behavior shows they can’t be trusted with open carry.
“This is not a reality show — this is real life, and these laws will have a real effect on the safety and sanity of our communities,” said Claire Larson, a gun owner, veteran and former rifle instructor who represents the Texas Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“There are too many safety concerns for us,” Larson said. “We don’t want to be at the playground or the grocery store and have to make a split-second decision — is that a good guy with a gun or a bad guy?”
“Opponents said gun rights activists’ behavior shows they can’t be trusted with open carry.” What have they done to show that they can’t be trusted? They haven’t done anything illegal. In fact, they’ve followed state law to a T. Open carrying a rifle is legal in Texas. That’s all they’ve done. So, if anything, they’ve shown that they can be trusted with an open carry law for handguns. Somehow following the law translates into “bad behavior.”