Open-Carry Advocates Confront Lawmaker, Cause Creation of New Panic-Button Law
Russ Chastain 01.14.15
Oh no, not again.
Will someone please tell all of the so-called “open carry advocates” to go home and stay there? All they seem to accomplish is making people uncomfortable, making gun owners look bad, and impeding the very cause they claim to be advancing.
Open carry of firearms without licensing or permitting, also called Constitutional carry, is what such people claim to support. But instead of just doing it in the normal course of a day’s activities, they gather together in public places to display their firearms in ways that do nothing for freedom or liberty, and only cause setbacks to gun rights.
Over the past year or so, several well-known companies have been prompted to ask their customers to abstain from toting guns in their locations, after gatherings of open-carriers made customers uncomfortable. Notable companies who did this include Starbucks, Target, and Chipotle.
I am a strong proponent of gun rights and believe we are far too restricted in most of the USA, but I also have sense enough to know what is likely to hamper the efforts to regain our rights–or at the very least, stop the loss of them.
And gathering in public with guns boldly displayed just because you can is not going to help.
Neither is showing up at lawmakers’ offices to harass them, as was proven yesterday, when a “gun rights group led by Kory Watkins” stopped by the offices of a number of Texas congressmen to promote House Bill 195, which would effectively remove requirements for permitting or licensing of concealed carry of firearms.
It’s not clear whether Watkins and his people were carrying firearms at the time, though they have done so numerous occasions. Watkins was reportedly kicked out of the pro-gun group Open Carry Texas for violating its bylaws. And no wonder, considering that the armed arrival of Watkins and others at a Jack in the Box restaurant freaked out the employees so much that they retreated to a freezer and hid inside.
Several lawmakers weren’t in their offices when Watkins went on the prowl, but Democrat Rep. Poncho Nevárez was, and he was confronted by Watkins and several others. When Nevárez said he wouldn’t support HB 195, the incensed group called him out. In response, someone told him, “You won’t be here long.”
Most folks seem to agree that Watkins et al went looking for an argument that they could record and then post publicly. They got it. But they also got something else.
Not only did they utterly fail to convince Nevárez to consider voting for HB 195, they managed to get kicked out of his office. They also managed to make lawmakers nervous enough to conjure up a new rule allowing members of the state congress to install so-called panic buttons in their offices, allowing them to instantly “summon officers from the Department of Public Safety.”
It’s a knee-jerk reaction and doesn’t add much, as their offices already have the ability to directly dial the Department of Public Safety. But it shows how showboating and confrontational “activism” can often do more harm than good.
Jerry patterson, who originally wrote Texas’s concealed handgun law, agreed, saying that Watkins and his associates were “trying to pick a fight.” He also added the following colorful and painfully accurate statement.
That episode might have killed constitutional carry. I wouldn’t call it grandstanding. I’d just call it stupidity.
Dear open-carry activists: Please stop trying so hard. Everything you try makes things worse. All you’re doing is damaging the reputation of all gun owners and triggering companies and governments to create more restrictions.