Thursday, January 29, 2015

Open Carry Activists in Texas Gain Ground

Open carry activists at the State Capitol in Austin.

The movement to restore open carry to Texas has heated up in the last year and a half.  It arguably accelerated with  C.J. Grisham being accosted by a police officer in rural Bell County.  An army veteran whose family owns thousands of acres in Bell county,  Grisham was eventually convicted of "interfering with police duties" after a second jury trial.  He is paying a $2,000 fine.  On the installment plan.  In nickles.   The results are still under appeal.  Many who have watched the video of the event think the police officer is the one who should have been reprimanded.  The video went viral, and Grisham's zeal for open carry has blossomed into thousands of armed Texans marching to demand their second amendment rights.  Charges against nearly all open carriers have been dropped.

Those thousands of activists across the state have been busy.   A number of Republicans have been primaried, and even the Democrat governor candidate could not hang onto her senate seat.  She was replaced by a staunch pro constitution Republican.   The new Governor, the Lt. Governor, and many, many legislators have all said that they support open carry.  There is some question about what kind of open carry will come from the legislature.  Governor Abbot has said that he will sign whatever open carry bill comes his way, either licensed open carry, which 13 states have, or constitutional carry, which 5 states have.  Not mentioned was unlicensed open carry, where a license is required for concealed carry, but not for open carry.  31 states have that arrangement.  Texas is one of only six states that ban the open carry of modern handguns in most public spaces.

It was with some interest that I read the article in the titled "Open Carry Activists Rally at Capitol.

The article made a passing reference to how open carry came to be restricted in Texas.   It was born of the reconstruction government after the War Between the States, or Civil War, if you prefer. 

It notes that the activists have learned effective political theater.  In this case, putting bananas in empty holsters to make a point.  It is a powerful image that attracts the eye.

The article also shows that most states already have open carry, and that Texas is an anomaly. 
Texas is one of six states that doesn’t allow open carry of handguns, although it does permit the open carry of long-guns and antique handguns made before 1899. Thirty-one states currently allow open carry without a permit and 13 require a permit.

They give some more detail about the origin of the ban as opinion from a black open carry activist:
Sterling Lands, a bishop with Family Life International Fellowship in Austin and the lone black face in the crowd of demonstrators, had a reason for supporting open carry that wasn’t articulated by the speakers. He believes that restrictive gun laws in Texas were created as a response to the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, and that current gun laws are discriminatory.
“The idea was to make certain that blacks were never able to rise up in any type of an armed revolt,” Lands said.
Representative Jonathan Stickland who authored the bill, spoke to and demonstrated with the open carry activists.  He showed his commitment to  constitutional carry, with the threat of primary opposition:
Stickland is also committed to getting constitutional carry legislation passed, promising that he will offer an amendment on any gun-related bill, “no matter what my colleagues say.”
“We will force the vote,” Stickland said. “And if they have the gall to vote against this bill then we will replace them in the next primary.”
Looking at this from a Republican representative's eyes, in a purely Machiavellian approach, it is hard to see much in the way of downsides to passing Constitutional carry, while there are many positives.

It is clear that there are thousands of activists throughout the state, that they will be watching the votes, and that they have long memories.   The threat of being primaried is real, and has happened to other representatives who no longer hold their exalted positions. 

There does not exist *any* such opposition on the other side.  What opposition that exists is mostly in the form of dying media outlets and billionaires who want to tell everyone else how to live.   Those billionaires do not have their sights set on Texas.   There are no grass roots efforts to primary pro-constitution people. 

There is a tiny negative in that the old media has some weak opposition to open carry.  It matters little to Republican candidates, who are constantly tarred as tools of the NRA by the old media in any case. 

The existence of open carry in the vast majority of states makes the fear based arguments against it ineffective.   Criminals almost never openly carry, because it draws attention to them.   Other than a vague "we hate guns" principle on the left, there are no valid public policy arguments against it.

The Republican legislators have very strong reasons to vote for constitutional carry, and very weak reasons to vote against it.   Vote for it, and have thousands of activists approve, maybe even promote your election.   Vote against it, and have thousands of activists that have shown their dedication, work to take you out in the next primary.

This is the same dynamic that resulted in the concealed carry revolution across the 50 States.   The best summation of it is in Rise of the Anti-Media, by  Brian Anse Patrick, professor of Communications at University of Toledo, Ohio.

If I were a Texas Republican, I would pass constitutional carry, and not have to worry about the next primary and facing the same issue again the next legislative session.  That is exactly how constitutional carry came to Alaska.   An Alaska Democrat just got tired of constantly losing incremental battles to restrict the legal carry of firearms, and said, let's pass constitutional carry, then we can get on to bigger issues.   It is good advice for legislatures in all the states.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Demokkkrats will fight tooth and nail to keep the old Jim Crow laws on the books in Texas as they are aligned with the communist party.