Open carry advocates in Texas are taking measures so extreme, even the NRA is advising caution, and if the NRA is telling you to pump the brakes, it might be time to re-examine your tactics. In a statement released Friday, the NRA addressed growing concerns about the tactics open carry groups have been employing in Texas in an effort to educate the public about the joys of carrying a weapon. It's not that the NRA is upset that there are groups out there championing the cause of being armed at all times; they'd never do that. Putting a gun in every hand is kind of the NRA's jam.
No, the National Rifle Association is annoyed with Texas gun owners because they keep strapping AK 47's to their back, going to Chipotle, and trying to talk to customers about how cool they look eating a burrito with an automatic rifle. As a result of the negative publicity such stories shine on gun advocacy, the NRA felt compelled to address the situation.
The public statement, issued on May 30, was divided into two parts. The first concentrated on the NRA's continued war on "smart guns" (which this writer isn't informed enough to really speak on, but it did seem as though the NRA made some reasonable points …). The second half of the statement concentrated on the public relations struggles faced by (or caused by?) open carry advocates in the Lone Star State, and the folks at the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action didn't hold back.
A cursory compliment to Texas' gun culture - which was aptly described as "robust" - was followed immediately with a stern reprimand. A few gun-loving Texans, the statement claimed, "have recently crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness."
"Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states," the statement continued. "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 … not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business … It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates."
The most obnoxious thing about that statement is that I don't even have to get all liberal rant-y on this one. The NRA already did it for me. It would be weird to see someone with an automatic weapon standing next to me in line at Chik Fil-A. This isn't Beirut, people, it's a strip mall across the parking lot from a CostCo. Part of the joy of living in America is knowing that, unless I live in Detroit, I don't need a giant gun with a 30-round magazine just to go pick up some milk at the store.
It would even seem that, until the NRA got officially involved, open carry groups in Texas were on board with keeping the assault rifles at home. In the immediate wake of the Chipotle-backlash (I'm speaking politically, here, not the Chipotle backlash that occurs fifteen minutes after digestion), open carry groups in Texas released a joint statement with the following (incredibly logical) quote: "We are humbly and emphatically imploring our members to cease taking long arms into corporate businesses unless invited."
After the NRA released their statement, Open Carry Texas responded on Twitter, claiming that the National Rifle Association had "lost its relevance and sided with #guncontrolextremists and their lapdog media." Given that Open Carry Texas was one of the groups who'd previously advocated leaving the AR's at home, this statement is surprising (though, not terribly surprising if you know some Texans - they really hate being told what to do).
Yesterday's Twitter statement was just the beginning. Open carry groups in Texas are now working to make sure as many people as possible are openly carrying firearms at this year's GOP convention. “All delegates, I urge you to open-carry the whole time,” Open Carry Tarrant County coordinator Kory Watkins wrote. “I will be a delegate with my AK 47. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.”