AUSTIN – Yesterday, the Texas Capitol was the site of a Come and Take It Texas armed lobby day to push for the passage of HB 195, which would allow the open carry of handguns with no permitting or background check requirements. The group’s lobbying efforts included an armed rally, a demonstration on how to manufacture untraceable AR-15 parts, and conducting office visits to lobby for passage of open carry legislation this session.
Kory Watkins, a leader of the open carry movement in Texas, posted this video on his Facebook page showcasing open carry proponents harassing Texas lawmaker and gun owner Poncho Nevarez because he refuses to support the permitless open carry of handguns. Inresponse to the confrontation yesterday, the Texas House approved rules Wednesday to be able to install panic buttons and eject hostile members of the public from their offices.
“Where is the panic button for the Texas citizens? The behavior of the open carry supporters yesterday is deplorable and should be a wake-up call to legislators that this type of extreme behavior is not welcome in Texas,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Make no mistake: expanding open carry in any form is simply an attempt by the gun lobby to make it acceptable for anyone to open carry guns everywhere, no questions asked.”
Yesterday’s Come and Take it Texas demonstration also drew criticism from within the open carry movement. C.J. Grisham, a long time supporter of expanding open carry and the leader of Open Carry Texas said, “I mean, it’s the first day of the Legislature, we are this close to getting open carry passed, and now these guys want to come and manufacture a firearm on the steps of the Capitol? I just don’t get it.”
Earlier this year Grisham was featured in Mother Jones coverage of intimidation tactics employed by Open Carry Texas and others within the movement.
“This divide within the open carry groups right now in Texas seems like an easy way for some of these bills to seem more ‘reasonable’, said Watts. “Moms are here to make sure these attempts do not go unchecked, we remember the threats and intimidation, and we will not sit idle and let this sort of behavior become acceptable.”
Earlier this week members of the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America visited 175 offices in the state legislature with cookies and strollers in tow to introduce themselves and discuss common-sense gun legislation and the chapter’s opposition to expanding open carry in Texas.