Bud Kennedy

Open Carry Tarrant is coming? Better hit the panic button

Gun cases are among the Texas Capitol souvenirs sold in the gift shop.
Gun cases are among the Texas Capitol souvenirs sold in the gift shop. Star-Telegram.com

Tarrant County is making news again in Austin, and not in a good way.

Gun-rights activists from Arlington and Mansfield frightened the Texas House so much they voted to add office panic buttons.

Understand, it takes a lot to scare the Legislature. These are some of the huntin’-est, shootin’-est pistol-packin’ sidewinders who ever raised a Ruger.

Even the Capitol gift shop sells gun gear, right there next to the snow globes and jigsaw puzzles.

Yet lawmakers ordered panic buttons Thursday after just one visit from Arlington’s favorite police pest: Mansfield Republican Kory Watkins and his stunt show from Open Carry Tarrant County.

Watkins and his menacing marchers joined Second Amendment activists at the Capitol Tuesday to lobby for the free, unregulated carrying of firearms.

Most activists met quietly in offices. But Watkins’ group wound up in a tense standoff with state Rep. Poncho Nevárez of Eagle Pass, vice-chairman of the Democratic caucus.

Nevárez declined to support the bill. For that, he was called a “tyrant” and warned, “You won’t be here very long, bro.”

When Nevárez tried to close the office door, Watkins blocked him.

Even Open Carry Texas leader “C.J.” Grisham of Temple criticized Watkins’ “lack of professionalism, tact” and “childishness.”

Watkins, 31, still played the victim Thursday, calling himself a “patriot” and gun rights “God-given.”

Instead of a panic button, House Republicans might reach for the GOP platform.

It reads: “No level of government shall regulate either the ownership or possession of firearms.”

Watkins just delivered his party’s message, bro.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy