Pro-Gun Texas State Rep Warns Open Carriers Could Torpedo Their Own Movement

Texas State Rep Geoerge Lavender, via

A Texas state representative has warned open carry groups that their continued insistence on carrying long guns into private businesses is hurting the effort to legalize the open carry of handguns.

State Rep. George Lavender of Texarkana advised the group and others to stop publicly exposing their long guns and cool down, at least until he has a chance to get the Open Carry law passed at the next legislative session in Austin. Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a backer of Open Carry, agreed that the rallies probably were hurting rather than boosting the legislation’s chances.

You’ll note that the same article also notes unexpectedly strong support for gun control in the Lone Star State.

And on the other side of the gun debate, a non-profit founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her retired astronaut husband Mark Kelly has released a poll of Texas voters showing surprisingly strong support for tougher laws to bar potentially violent people from possessing firearms. Giffords was gravely wounded in a deadly mass shooting in her home state.

According to the poll sponsored by Americans for Responsible Solutions, of a thousand likely Texas voters, 85 percent support requiring background checks on all gun sales and 79 percent favored denying convicted domestic abusers access to guns. Sixty-one percent favored requiring subjects of restraining orders to forfeit their firearms.

We’ve noted multiple times that the political momentum in Texas over the past year has been towards the legalization of open carry. Both 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis have signaled their support for the legalization of handgun open carry. The Texas legislature likewise seems to be leaning towards passing open carry legislation in the 2015 session. Passing the law seemed to be merely a matter of time… until, that is, Texas open carry groups adopted aggressive tactics that have resulted in very bad press for the practice of open carry, and which have resulted in multiple corporations asking all gun owners, across the nation, to leave their firearms at home.

The single biggest impediment to passing a law that will legalize open carry of handguns in Texas is the continued controversial tactics of some open carry groups in Texas who insist upon carrying long-guns into private businesses. These displays—often carried out by individuals with incredibly poor gun safety practices—now threaten to undermine the stated goal of these groups.

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These groups argue that a “right unused is a right lost,” and yet the fact that the open carry of loaded long guns into private establishments has never been common at any point in our nation’s history.

They also seem to forget that when the general public feels that a right is being abused, they’ll push for that right to be stripped away with more restrictive laws. If you have any doubts about how politically tone-deaf open carry can backfire spectacularly, you need look no further that what happened with open carry in California. California banned open carry in 2011 after what the public viewed as intimidation tactics by open carriers.

All these Texas open carry groups need to do to secure a law allowing handgun open carry is to simply stop hurting their own cause.

Unfortunately, Open Carry Texas seems to have the same problem as comedian Ron White, who once famously said that he had the right to remain silent… just not the ability.