AUSTIN (KXAN) – Dozens of supporters of open carry legislation in Texas gathered outside the Capitol Tuesday morning – some of them carrying AR-15s. The groups started setting up before sunrise for the start of the 84th Texas legislative session, hoping to change Texas law.
Come and Take It Texas set up outside the south gate of the Capitol, with many of its supporters carrying rifles. Texas currently allows the open carry of long guns, but not handguns. However, that distinction is exactly what the group aims to change that.
“It just goes to show how ridiculous the laws can be,” said Pablo Frias from Arlington, Texas. Frias carried his AR-15 at the event. “Some say it’s not the right way to go. Others support it. You’re never going to have both sides of the fence on the same page. There’s differences, and that’s what America was based on.”
The organization also showed off a machine that allows the owner to craft essential parts for a rifle.
Set up next to Come and Take It Texas, an organization called Lone Star Gun Rights met with petitions to deliver to lawmakers.
“I know we have 15,000 [petitions] here. I know that, like, National Association for Gun Rights is claiming they have over 20,000 at this point and the efforts haven’t even ramped up,” said Texas Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, who authored an open carry bill, which would get rid of the requirement to get a Concealed Handgun License. “So, really what you see here is just the initial outpouring of people who are self-educating themselves on this issue.”
“I feel like every time we have to go submit for a CHL now, we’re having to prove ourselves innocent in order to use our right. So right now, it’s not really a right, it’s a privilege,” said Justin Delosh, legislative director for Lone Star Gun Rights.
Stickland’s bill is one of several filed related to open carry. His would allow a person to carry a handgun without a license.
Governor-elect Greg Abbott has said he’ll sign an open carry bill if it reaches his desk.
Still, the bills have their opponents.
The organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America met with lawmakers this week. The group’s Texas chapter opposes open carry.
“Our main concern is that unlicensed open carry of handguns in Texas isn’t the Texas that we as Texans and we as moms want to live in,” said Nicole Greene, an Austin volunteer with the organization.”
“As Texans and parents, we refuse to have to determine whether the people open carrying around us are members of law enforcement sworn to protect us, activists making a political statement –like those holding the armed rally at the Capitol today – or dangerous criminals who intend to harm us,” volunteer Claire Elizabeth said in a statement. “Make no mistake: expanding open carry is simply an attempt by the gun lobby to make it acceptable for anyone to open carry guns everywhere, no questions asked. In fact, HB 195, the bill Come and Take It Texas supports, would allow the open carry of handguns without any permit requirements, not even a background check. This is not theTexas we want to raise our families in.”