As a demonstration against police shootings made its way downtown in Dallas last week, it differed from others around the country in one startling way: Twenty to 30 of the marchers showed up with AR-15s and other types of military-style rifles and wore them openly, with the straps slung across their shoulders and backs. It was not only legal, it also was commonplace, the New York Times reports. The state is a bastion of pro-gun sentiment and the kind of place where both Democrats and Republicans openly talk about the guns they own and carry. Activists have exploited a decades-old freedom to openly carry a rifle in public by showing up at demonstrations with their so-called long guns.
City and county leaders said the presence of armed protesters openly carrying rifles through downtown Dallas created confusion for the police as the attack on officers unfolded, making it more difficult for officers to distinguish between suspects and marchers. Two men who were armed and a woman who was with them were detained, fueling an early, errant theory by the police that there was more than one gunman. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings suggested after the attack tightening the state’s gun laws to restrict the carrying of rifles and shotguns in public. “There should be some way to say I shouldn’t be bringing my shotgun to a Mavericks game or to a protest because something crazy should happen,” said Rawlings. “I just want to come back to common sense.” The state’s open-carry culture, the mayor said, had imperiled people on the streets of Dallas.