Carrying a gun is not against the law in Texas

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Texas is in the national news in a big way because Texans like to carry their guns.

Some law enforcement officials say some Texans hold their weapons in such a way that they are menacing or even threatening, which they say is reason enough for them to be slapped with criminal charges.

But carrying a rifle in public is not against the law in Texas. A handgun must be concealed but is legal if the person has a concealed handgun license. Those are the facts.

The first in a series of court cases along this line in Texas ended in a mistrial earlier this month when Bell County jurors couldn’t agree whether U.S. Army Master Sergeant Christopher Grisham was guilty of a Class B misdemeanor for interfering with the duties of a police officer.

Grisham was arrested in March while hiking in a rural area of Temple with his son, who was working toward a Boy Scout merit badge. Carrying an AR-15 with a quick-release strap across his chest and a concealed pistol in a holster covered by his shirt, he planned to shoot any menacing animals, such as the feral pigs known to be in the area.

Both guns and the manner in which Grisham carried them were legal. The arresting police officer said he felt threatened by Grisham when he stopped to investigate why Grisham was carrying the rifle.

A video taken by Grisham’s son on his cell phone clearly shows Grisham was not belligerent or threatening.

When asked by the officer why he had a rifle, Grisham simply responded, “Because I can.”

His answer is correct. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to bear arms, and Texas law provides for how we can legally do so.

In another situation, a veteran in a wheelchair was arrested and held in the Austin city jail for 24 hours for “disorderly conduct” when he participated in an “open carry” rally at the state Capitol in September.

Arresting officers accused him of displaying his pre-1890 black powder pistol in a threatening manner even though he has little use of his hands or legs.

Again, video taken during the confrontation shows a gun advocate being hassled for publicly carrying a weapon. He was not allowed to use his wheel chair in the jail cell, and he was not given water or food for more than 12 hours.

Cases like these are clearly an abuse of power by law enforcement officers who are responsible for protecting us all. These men are not members of drug cartels; they were not apprehended during armed robberies; they were not brandishing their guns and threatening to shoot anyone.

One was merely spending quality time with his son: the other was exercising his right to free speech. The state is spending thousands of dollars to bring matters like this to trial to punish a few and send veiled threats to others.

The National Association for Legal Gun Defense is legally representing these men as well as others across the state.

This is not our primary reason for existence. Our purpose is to provide our members with legal representation should they find themselves in need of an attorney when they have acted in self-defense.

Situations like these should be a call to action by concerned citizens. Reason must beat back fear, and our law enforcement officials must be held accountable.

Our police officers need training in the law and how to interact with law-abiding citizens. This must be a top priority across the state. We as taxpayers should demand nothing less.

Larry Keilberg is president of the National Association for Legal Gun Defense.

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