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Lawsuits, Petitions Circulate In Open Carry Debate

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - Both sides are firing new shots in the highly charged North Texas debate about carrying guns in public.

On Wednesday, Kory Watkins, the organizer of Open Carry Tarrant County, filed an federal lawsuit against the City of Arlington.

The suit claims the city is violating Open Carry’s constitutional rights with its new ordinance that bans members from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution to drivers stopped at Arlington intersections.

“No event precipitated this sudden interest in these restrictions other than the Open Carry events and public demonstrations, irrespective of the fact that the Shriners and firefighters have been standing directly in the busiest streets with the blessing of the City Council for decades. The City has conducted no study to show that the actions of Open Carry supporters is dangerous or has caused dangerous circumstances,” the lawsuit states.

Arlington City council also passed an ordinance last month banning all weapons at its meetings.  Texas law already prohibited handguns from being carried into government group meetings, but does no address ‘long guns’ such as a rifles or shotguns.

Meanwhile, the group, Moms Demand Action, has launched a petition calling for two national chains to ban the carrying of firearms after demonstrations at San Antonio Chili’s and Sonic restaurants.

“Moms should be able to take our children to family-oriented restaurants like Chili’s and Sonic and not have to worry about being confronted by customers with semiautomatic rifles,” said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We support the Second Amendment, but people displaying their loaded weapons at the places we take our children to eat– as these extremist gun groups have been doing – is unacceptable.  How can we, or the store’s employees or law enforcement, possibly know if they are good guys or bad guys?  That’s why we are calling on Chili’s and Sonic to follow the lead of Chipotle and Starbucks and clearly state that open carry is not welcome in their restaurants.”

Sonic has issued the following statement responding to the petition:

Sonic has historically relied upon local laws to guide how our drive-in operators address guns on our properties. Now, more than ever before, the issue of gun rights is increasingly complex and divisive. Laws continue to change at local and state levels, and businesses are becoming involuntary participants in the debate. We’re continuing to analyze how our organization treats the issue, taking into account the variety of laws across the nation, the views of our operators and, most importantly, the desires of our customers. We understand our customers particularly are concerned and recognize this is a big issue, so we are looking into this and taking this feedback seriously.

Open Carry Tarrant County says it will hold its “largest event” on Saturday at a Home Depot in North Richland Hills, where more than 200 people are expected to attend.  Scroll below to read Open Carry’s full lawsuit filed against the City of Arlington.  Click here to read the Moms Demand Action petition.

Open Carry Suit Against Arlington[1] by CBS11

 

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