Some people may not know that the Texas revolution for independence against dictatorial rule, like the American revolution, started with an attempt to disarm the citizens.
When the upstart government of Santa Anna, who had taken over the Mexican state in a coup, tried to take a small cannon that the citizens of Gonzales, Texas had for defense against hostile indians, the citizens put into English the famous Greek phrase of the Spartans, Molon Labe, and said:
Come and take it!
It has been taken as the moniker in Kingwood, Texas by an open carry group determined to restore and defend their rights under the Second Amendment and the Texas Constitution. The original Texas declaration of rights of 1836 and the constitution of 1845 had strong right to keep and bear arms protections. From the 1836 declaration of rights:
"Every citizen shall have the right to bear arms in defence of himself and the republic."and the 1845 Texas Constitution:
"Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defence of himself and the State."
Texas sided with the Confederacy in the War between the States, or Civil War, if you prefer. They lost, and the carpetbagger government created a new Texas Constitution in 1869. That Constitution gutted the right to keep and bear arms.
"Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the state, under such regulations as the legislature may prescribe."
In 1872 and 1873, Texas voted out the carpetbagger government. The governor begged the federal government for troops to keep him in power, but none were sent. He fled the governor's mansion as an impromptu militia of armed citizens advanced on it.
The post reconstruction Texas approved of a new Constitution in 1876. It had stronger protection of the right to keep and bear arms , but left in a crucial loophole for the legislature. It provided that the legislature could regulate the wearing of arms with respect to fighting crime.
"Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defence of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power by law to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime."The legislature did not repeal the reconstruction ban on the carrying of arms, and the courts refused to invalidate the law under the 1876 Constitution. The law was widely used to disarm former slaves and others out of favor with the local authorities. Democrats would control Texas for over a century.
With the Republican revolution of 1994, after decades of abuse of the prohibition on bearing arms on the person, the legislature passed a restrictive shall issue concealed carry law, which has been incrementally improved.
In 2007 Texas codified "travel" to mean any time you were in your vehicle. Texans could now carry a handgun in their vehicles without a permit, but the handgun had to be concealed.
Texas is one of only six states that forbids the open carry of handguns.
The open carry movement in Texas, wishing to have the freedoms that 44 other states enjoy, has started to demonstrate the open carry of rifles and shotguns, because they are not allowed to open carry handguns.
Oklahoma has recently restored the right to carry handguns openly to "shall issue" permit holders. An open carry demonstration is scheduled for Arkansas to enforce a change in the law. Numerous settlements have been gained from police departments who abuse open carry rights in Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and others.
California is the only fish to be swimming against this tide. It banned open carry of even unloaded handguns in 2011 and rifles and shotguns in 2012. The laws are being challenged in the courts.
More demonstrations are being planned for Texas in the coming months. Many Texas legislators are sympathetic.
What will happen in the next legislative session remains to be seen.
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.