The NRA becomes a critic of Texas 'open carry' movement

Kory Watkins, front, coordinator for Open Carry Tarrant County carries his Romanian AK 47 over his shoulder as he and his wife Janie, rear, along with others gather for a demonstration, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Haltom City, Texas. North Texas gun rights advocates are suing the city of Arlington for amending an ordinance that they claim is discriminatory and infringes upon free speech rights, in the latest sign of growing tensions among gun activists and government forces in Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Caption
Kory Watkins, front, coordinator for Open Carry Tarrant County carries his Romanian AK 47 over his shoulder as he and his wife Janie, rear, along with others gather for a demonstration, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Haltom City, Texas. North Texas gun rights advocates are suing the city of Arlington for amending an ordinance that they claim is discriminatory and infringes upon free speech rights, in the latest sign of growing tensions among gun activists and government forces in Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

When the National Rifle Association says you've gone too far, maybe a little self-examination is in order. First, the background from the Associated Press:

The advocates' actions in restaurants and other public places — part of a push for less restrictive gun laws, including legalizing the open carry of handguns — have prompted public criticism.

The NRA has long been a zealous advocate for gun owners' rights. But the group's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, has called the demonstrations counterproductive to promoting gun rights, scary and "downright weird."

The NRA said the demonstrations have "crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness."

"Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That's not the Texas way. And that's certainly not the NRA way," the NRA said in a statement posted on its website Friday.

The president and vice president of Open Carry Texas, one of the groups behind the recent demonstrations, did not return emails seeking comment late Monday.

But in a statement posted on its Facebook page, Open Carry Texas criticized the NRA, saying if the group doesn't retract its comments, Open Carry will have to withdraw its full support for the NRA.

Here's the gist of the NRA statement, posted on its website last Friday:

Now we love AR-15s and AKs as much as anybody, and we know that these sorts of semiautomatic carbines are among the most popular, fastest selling firearms in America today.

Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn't ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity. Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this.

Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.

Yet while 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.

As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises …. In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that's counterproductive for the gun owning community.

More to the point, it's just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That's not the Texas way. And that's certainly not the NRA way.

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