Activists bringing rifles into Texas chain stores have put the state at the center of a national fight over “open-carry” laws, reinforcing the image of the Lone Star State as a haven for gun rights, reports the Wall Street Journal. Actually, Texas has one of the nation’s more restrictive laws on the carrying of handguns. It is a policy that firearms-rights groups and legislators are fighting to change. Legislation to allow carrying of handguns visibly has stalled. Some Texas gun-rights supporters are concerned that negative publicity over the recent protests will make their struggle tougher. Proponents of open carry say they have resorted to toting rifles into chains like Target and Chipotle to make a point, because it is all they are legally permitted to do.
“We’d much rather carry a handgun,” said Terry Holcomb Sr. of Texas Carry, one of the open-carry advocacy groups active across the state. “A long gun is not conducive to everyday personal defense, going to work, going out, going shopping.” Thirteen states require a special permit or license to openly carry a handgun, while 31 allow open carry of legally owned handguns with no restrictions, although in some of those cases they can’t be loaded. Texas is one of just five states, along with the District of Columbia, that doesn’t permit citizens to openly display a legally registered handgun.