2 carrying replica antique pistols jailed after Texas Capitol protest

Posted Friday, Sep. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Two people testing their rights to openly carry guns in Texas were jailed Friday for carrying Civil War-era pistols near the State Capitol, while more than a dozen other gun-rights activists with rifles walked free.

Authorities said Terry Louis Holcomb, 44, identified as a Huntsville-area minister, and Scott Douglas Smith, 50, of San Antonio were in jail facing disorderly-conduct charges after their late-morning arrest by state troopers.

The arrests touched off protests on Twitter and on the Internet that the two men were unfairly targeted, since the replica guns are exempt from enforcement under state firearms law.

The activists, from groups advocating open-carry laws, said they had met with state police and Capitol officials this week to detail their plans and avoid such trouble.

State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a gun law expert who authored the state’s concealed-weapons law, called the arrests unfair.

“They were carrying a copy of the law with them that specifically exempts those particular replica antique ball-and-cap pistols — they don’t fire regular bullets — and they still got arrested,” Patterson said. “The law was specifically written to allow people to do these kinds of things. You can’t just make up a law to arrest someone because you don’t like what they’re doing.”

Capitol police referred questions to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which confirmed the two arrests but declined to provide details.

Austin-area resident Nestor Rizo, a participant in the demonstration, said Holcomb and Smith came to the Capitol — as others have several times in the past year — to openly display rifles and legal pistols in their campaign to get the Legislature to allow Texans to openly carry handguns.

Under state law, Texans may carry concealed handguns if they obtain a state permit. Carrying handguns openly is illegal.

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