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In an online video Wednesday, a gun rights activist pushing for legislation allowing Texans to openly carry handguns tells state legislators that “treason is punishable by death.”
Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County posted, then later pulled, the video on YouTube, but not before another user uploaded it. The link was then shared by groups that oppose open-carry legislation.
In the 4-minute video, Watkins, 31, says, “We should be demanding these people give us our rights back, or it’s punishable by death. Treason. Do you understand how serious this is, Texas?”
The Texas constitution says that a person can be convicted of treason only for waging war or supporting enemies of the state.
Watkins tells viewers to do “more than foots in doors,” apparently referring to a confrontation he had with Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevarez at the Texas Capitol on Jan. 13 during which a gun rights activist put his foot in a door to keep it from closing.
Watkins, 31, has been a vocal advocate of legislation that would allow open carry, something that has been prohibited in Texas almost since the Civil War.
The reform seemed primed to pass this year in the Republican-controlled Legislature, with leadership including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pledging to “fight for open carry.”
On the first day of the legislative session, Watkins and a group of other activists had a heated exchange with Nevarez in his office. Soon after, the Texas Department of Public Safety assigned a security detail to the Democratic lawmaker from Eagle Pass.
The confrontation raised tensions around open carry, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the flow of legislation in the Senate, suggested last week that the issue wasn’t a priority in the upper chamber – only to release a subsequent statement reversing himself. That prompted a meeting between Watkins and Patrick’s senior staff.
On Wednesday, Patrick’s spokesman Alejandro Garcia could not be reached for comment.
After the video was circulated, Watkins explained on Facebook that he “was certainly not threatening anyone” and was “not talking about hurting legislators, or anyone else.”
But Nevarez’s chief of staff said he took the video seriously and forwarded the video to DPS, which declined to comment.
Claire Larson, a former rifle instructor and the Texas Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, issued a statement saying Watkins threatened lives of Texas legislators.
She urged lawmakers to “take these threats seriously too, respect the legislative process, and oppose the expansion of open carry in our state.”
Calls to Watkins were not returned.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)