Local open carry groups fired back at the NRA on Tuesday after the nation’s largest gun-rights group chastised them for headline-generating demonstrations geared to promote their quest to openly carry sidearms legally.
Many members denounced the group and posted photos on Facebook of torn up NRA cards, which they plan to send back to the organization.
“It is unfortunate that an organization that claims to be dedicated to the preservation of gun rights would attack another organization fighting so hard for those rights in Texas,” according to an Open Carry Texas statement.
“The more the NRA continues to divide its members by attacking some aspects of gun rights instead of supporting all gun rights, the more support it will lose.”
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An opinion piece posted on the NRA website called Open Carry rallies at fast-food restaurants and home improvement stores in Texas “downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself.”
Late Tuesday, WFAA/Channel 8 reported that an NRA executive said the statement was a “mistake” and was the personal opinion of a single NRA staff member.
“I had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece and expressed his personal opinion,” said Chris Cox, who is in charge of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners; our job is to effectuate policy changes that expand and protect our members' right of self-defense.”
The NRA “unequivocally” supports the “open carry” and “concealed carry” movements, according to the WFAA report.
The NRA statement came after several local demonstrations, including one at a Home Depot parking lot in North Richland Hills that prompted a police investigation into whether a raffle held at the event violated state gambling laws.
Other demonstrations, such as those at a Jack in the Box in Fort Worth and a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Dallas, have also drawn national attention. And a handful of fast-food restaurants have asked customers to not carry their long guns into their establishments.
Officials with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission remind Texans that long guns aren’t allowed in businesses that sell alcoholic drinks. The business could lose its permit to sell drinks, and any person in violation could face criminal-trespassing charges.
As a result of the national attention, some leaders in the open-carry movement recently sent out a letter asking supporters to cut back on efforts to carry long guns into Texas businesses.
All this comes as Texas Republicans prepare to head to the Fort Worth Convention Center this week for their annual convention Thursday through Saturday. New signs have been posted on doors warning the public that the unlicensed possession of a weapon is a felony.
There was confusion on whether guns could be carried inside the building because the facility holds a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission license.
Officials now say concealed handgun license holders and peace officers may carry their concealed handguns inside. Pre-1899 black powder pistols, which are not regulated by state law, have been allowed in the building this week. Long guns may be legally carried outside the convention center.
Open Carry Texas officials remain upset by the NRA’s recent criticism.
“The fact is that the NRA hasn't been able to get open carry passed in Texas since the right was first taken away from us when Jim Crow laws were passed in the 1860s, making us one of only 5 states where it is still illegal,” according to the Open Carry Texas statement.
“If [the NRA does] not retract their disgusting and disrespectful comments, OCT will have no choice but to withdraw its full support of the NRA and establish relationships with other gun rights organizations that fight for ALL gun rights, instead of just paying them lip service the way the NRA appears to be doing,” according to the Open Carry Texas statement.