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Photos Clicked In Texas Draw Target Into Gun Rights Fight

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MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) – Swift reaction after some customers recently shopped at a Texas grocery store while carrying guns. Target is the latest business in the cross-hairs of a gun rights fight after a group brought firearms into a North Texas store.

The pictures posted online show activists at a Target in Mansfield shopping for snacks and combing through the baby aisle. The men did that all while carrying long guns slung over their shoulders.

Open Carry Tarrant County spokesperson Kory Watkins claims he snapped the pictures and posted them on Facebook after a rally in March and that they’d gone mostly unnoticed for months. Now the photos have become part of a new advocacy group campaign against Target store everywhere.

A petition by the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is calling for the company to adopt policies against the carrying of weapons in its stores.

Reaction to the online photos was mixed. Some people said they would boycott Target if it didn’t change its policies, while others threatened to boycott if it did.

Tanya Ehrler, a shopper at the Target in Mansfield, had a definite opinion. “Firearms are a big part of our life. My husband is a firearms trainer.”

Every shopper who talked to CBS 11 News at the Mansfield store said they supported the right to own a gun. But most of them didn’t approve of openly displaying the weapons at the grocery store.

Shopper Melony Booher said, “I definitely wouldn’t go down an aisle if I saw someone carrying a shotgun, because you don’t really know what their motives are.”

Shopper Jay Neal said, “It just seems very confrontational to be carrying in the store. There are kids around.”

While Ehrler believes in gun right she also had a clear opinion about people openly displaying their weapons at an everyday place of business. “I would think they’re a jerk,” she said laughing. “Because they’re doing it for attention.”

Of all the shoppers who talked to CBS 11 at the Mansfield Target location only Annette Wise shrugged off the Open Carry members. When asked if she would mind people opening carrying long guns she said, “No. It doesn’t bother me.”

The pictures of the Texas shoppers actually came from the Open Carry Texas Facebook page. Open Carry Texas leaders say the pictures are outdated, because the group recently asked members to stop carrying guns into private businesses. But members of Open Carry Tarrant County, some of whom are actually featured in the pictures, still regularly take long guns into businesses.

Officials with Target told CBS 11 that “safety and security” are its highest priorities and it follows all state and federal laws.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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