FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Open Carry gun rights activists will be out in full force at the state’s GOP convention in Fort Worth from Thursday through Saturday.
“There’s a lot of talk in the party about constitutional carry and furthering more gun rights in Texas, so we’ve invited all the Open Carriers across the state to come out to the convention this week,” said Kory Watkins, leader of the controversial group Open Carry Tarrant County. “The black powder revolvers are allowed inside, but the shotguns and the rifles will be outside, and we’ll just have demonstrators throughout the week.”
Watkins said that they will have members who are delegates and guests carrying these black powder revolvers inside the convention. “Basically, what they are going to be doing is educating people and talking to people, especially the delegates that come in and out, and making sure we’re all on the same page for constitutional carry.”
But are leaders with the Texas GOP on board with the planned protest?
“The Republican party doesn’t have any problems with people expressing their view points,” explained Steve Munisteri, chair of the Texas GOP. “Anybody that has a concealed handgun permit is allowed to bring in a concealed handgun, so long as it remains concealed. Also, we’ve been informed that black powder weapons are not prohibited under TABC rules, so those are not only allowed in, but there are already people here carrying them without incident. And as for long guns or AK-47s, those are not allowed by TABC rules into the facility, so we ask that they restrict their demonstrations to the sidewalks.”
Some people in the Texas Republican party though fear that Open Carry demonstrations may become a sideshow to other serious issues being discussed at the convention. “I support Open Carry, but what they’re doing is simply a bad idea,” said Rep. Phil King of Weatherford.
“When someone sees someone with a long gun or a rifle, they don’t know if they’re well trained in it. They don’t know if they understand gun safety or to handle a gun properly,” King added. “It just frightens people and it works against what we’re trying to do, which is to defend and support our Second Amendment rights.”
King believes the Open Carry advocates will cause a disturbance among those coming and going to the convention. “I think it will concern a lot of people who are not used to being around guns. I’m very comfortable around weapons, but I would like to know for sure that people who are standing there with one understand gun safety — they know how to use them — and I don’t know that.”
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson shares King’s concerns. “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and if you go out there and just scare people, it may not help you achieve your goal,” Patterson said.
But as for Munisteri, he does not see any problems with Open Carry demonstrators scaring people at the convention. “It’s a Republican crowd,” he said. “We’re Second Amendment supporters, and I would think most Republicans are used to being at events where people are packing.”
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