Texas Gun Groups Undecided: Slowly Strangle Lone Gun Law Or Shoot It In The Face?

You might be surprised to discover that Texas doesn't require gun owners to obtain a gun license, register their guns, or report when their guns are lost or stolen. It does allow people to carry rifles and shotguns openly, and it allows gun owners to carry any kind of gun in public as long as it is concealed, but it does NOT allow the open carry of handguns. Gun regulations being a sort of endangered species in Texas, gun groups can hardly be blamed for their excitement in finding a healthy, robust specimen to kill and mount on the wall of their hunting lodge.

So what's worrying these open carry patriots? The optics of loosening gun laws in a state where 800 people are murdered by guns per year? The psychological implications of turning everyday life in Texas into an implicit armed standoff? Staunch opposition from gun control groups?

No, you poor, naive, innocent soul. What's worrying the open carry groups is infighting about exactly how quickly they should move to dismantle the restriction.

While all the gun rights groups agree that the eventual goal is "constitutional carry," a clever piece of jargon that means carrying handguns openly would be completely unregulated, gun groups disagree about how quickly to get there. While moderate groups want to start with licensed open carry, hardliners want constitutional carry or nothing. So while five different bills have been filed to allow open carry with a license, some groups are pushing for a sixth, which would allow open carry with no restrictions.

In the last two legislative sessions, Texas lawmakers have unsuccessfully pushed to allow handgun license holders to openly carry their firearms. Five nearly identical bills that would do that have already been filed.

A sixth, from State Representative Jonathan Stickland, a Republican, would allow Texans to carry a handgun openly without a license.

“There are a lot of people who are sick and tired of paying a fee for their basic rights and liberties,” Mr. Stickland said. “It’s rejecting the notion that we need to beg government for permission to do things like protect ourselves.”

Advocacy for a more incremental approach puts the National Rifle Association to the left of the political spectrum, acting as the Voice of Reason. Yes, that's the same NRA whose response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was to reject gun control regulation in favor of putting armed police officers in every school.

Mr. Grisham [the founder of Open Carry Texas] spoke critically of established groups, including the National Rifle Association, which has denounced the tactics of his group and others like it, including armed rallies where protesters have carried weapons on city streets.

“The N.R.A. likes to play nice,” he said. “What I mean by that is that they try to do nice things and get favors in return. We believe we shouldn’t have to buy our rights back.”

However "nice" the NRA might be, as we've noted before, they're apparently not "nice" enough to speak up on behalf of slain 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was summarily gunned down by the Cleveland, Ohio, police because he was carrying an airsoft gun. Ohio, we should hasten to add, is an open carry state. As always, the lovely rights and protections of our constitution be most lavish and liberally applied when they are being exercised by white men. Everyone else is on their own. Nice.

[NYT/NYT again]


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