Henry Vichique became a poster child for the national open-carry movement when San Antonio police arrested him March 30 while he was walking home with a loaded Russian World War II-vintage rifle slung across his shoulder, reports the Houston Chronicle. The arrest catapaulted Vichique, 19, onto center stage of a growing sector of gun-rights advocacy that sees the open display of weaponry as the ultimate expression of Second Amendment rights. Open Carry Texas, a leading advocacy group, held a rally last week to protest Vichique’s arrest.
Officers detained Vichique for violating a San Antonio ordinance that bans public displays of rifles and shotguns on public streets, counter to state law that permits open carrying of “long guns.” State law prohibits the open carrying of handguns. “So often when gun rights are limited in other states, people say ‘well, this isn’t Texas,'” said Jeff Knox, president of the Phoenix-based Firearms Coalition. “But the reality is Texas has not always had very good gun laws.” Forty-four states permit handgun open carry – 14 with a permit, and 30 in which no permit is required. Open-carry activists see their goal as not only affirming Second Amendment rights but creating a new atmosphere in which the public views openly armed individuals as benign rather than as potential mass shooters.