The National Rifle Association is none-too-pleased with some open carry gun-rights advocates who have been brandishing their weapons a little too freely. That's right: the people who insist on bringing automatic weapons to Chipotle are too crazy for even the NRA to get behind.
This Saturday, 150 open carry protesters took their weapons to a Home Depot in North Richland Hills, Texas. It was the latest organized effort by some pro-gun groups to demonstrate support for Second Amendment rights by making a show of openly carrying loaded rifles in public places, after similar events at Chipotle, Chili's and Sonic restaurants. As it turns out, the NRA really didn't want them to do that. In fact, the NRA thinks its "weird" and "downright foolish."
While the NRA is all for the Second Amendment, and as am I, they are drawing the very important distinction between a small handgun (the kind that are usually eligible for conceal/carry permits) and an AK-47 (the kind soldiers use at war to fire off dozens of rounds.)
Even before Saturday's protest the NRA issued a statement acknowledging that a few dozen people marching on a public place with loaded semiautomatic weapons is not the best way to send a pro-gun message. While perfectly legal, they called the practice a "dubious" way to make your point and "downright scary" to those who aren't used to seeing that in public. It's counterproductive, too, as those restaurants have now banned guns in all their establishments nationwide in response.
Now we love AR-15s and AKs as much as anybody, and we know that these sorts of semiautomatic carbines are among the most popular, fastest selling firearms in America today. Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn’t ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity. Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this.
Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates."
Between their forage-promoting lifestyle blog and urging gun owners to keep the rifles away from fast food chains, maybe the NRA is getting a little soft. Or more reasonable. Potatoe, potato.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.