When advocates for tighter restrictions on guns rallied recently in Austin, a small group of opponents staged a counter-rally outside, carrying firearms and waving a flag emblazoned with an assault rifle and the caption “Come and Take It.” The Texas Tribune reports that Texas gun rights advocates, like their counterparts who argue for gun control, have been increasingly active, organizing hundreds of grassroots demonstrations across the state. Their effort includes a simple strategy: a public display of their weapons — sometimes in front of their opponents. Open Carry Texas is taking its strategy to other states. The group is teaching like-minded gun owners in Oklahoma, Colorado and Arkansas to emulate the armed demonstration phenomenon.
“You've got a group of people who are carrying firearms, kids and women, smiling and waving,” said C.J. Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas, which wants lawmakers to allow Texans to carry handguns openly as they can carry long arms. “If we truly meant to hurt anybody, would we draw attention to ourselves by waving flags and smiling? If you think about it logically, the fact that someone is alarmed is unreasonable.” The tactics of groups like Open Carry Texas, which mobilizes crowds carrying shotguns, hunting rifles, AR-15s and AK-47s, have drawn criticism from gun control groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America. “Texas moms are tougher than $3 steak,” said the group’s Stephanie Lundy. “We will not be intimidated by armed anyone.”