Bud Kennedy

Gun-rights bills endangered by Open Carry’s misfires

Protesters at an Arlington Open Carry march in April.
Protesters at an Arlington Open Carry march in April. WFAA.com

Texas never met a gun-rights bill it didn’t like.

But if one actually fails to pass the Legislature this session, the author of the state’s 1995 handgun permit law knows why.

A bill to allow Texans to pack pistols without a permit won’t pass “because of the Tarrant County open-carry group’s obnoxious behavior,” former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson warned by email Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said a different bill allowing open carry with a permit “does not reach to the level of prioritizing” before adjournment June 1.

Basically, Patterson said, that bill might have a chance if Open Carry Tarrant County stays home.

Patrick’s comment will “stir up a lot of folks,” Patterson wrote, adding: “I hope these folks don’t make another scene.”

Patterson, 68, went on Facebook earlier to lecture open-carry activist Kory Watkins, 31, after the group went to Austin, menaced lawmakers and refused to leave an office.

Patterson called that “foolish.” Watkins’ comment: “Shame on you.”

Patterson wants the Legislature to pass bills allowing open carry and carrying at public colleges, both with a permit.

Since he worked hard for permits, he likes them.

Watkins is aligned with a Republican faction that sees the U.S. Constitution as God-inspired and the sole gun law, allowing legal gun owners to carry anytime.

In a Facebook video Tuesday, he said: “My Creator gave me the right to bear arms.”

Watkins added: “I'm coming to [Patrick's] office Thursday. Tell them to get the panic buttons ready.” His group started a separate Facebook page vowing to “hunt [opponents] down” and make them “leave Texas.”

State Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, filed the bill Patrick described as endangered.

“There’s a lot of Second Amendment bills. It’s too early to guess which will pass,” Estes said Tuesday.

If God gave us guns, who gave us the Texas Legislature?

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

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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