Last week, the NRA issued a statement condemning open-carry groups for bringing rifles to local fast food joints, calling the practice "downright weird," among other things, and recommending people stop doing it. Last night, NRA's chief lobbyist called that criticism a mistake.
Speaking on the NRA radio show Cam & Company, Chris Cox quickly went into damage control mode, saying that the note had been an expression of the views of one staffer, not the NRA at large. Cox said that he's "had a discussion," with the author of the "commentary," adding that it should never have been posted. "The truth is an alert went out that referred to this type of behavior as weird or somehow not normal, and that was a mistake. It shouldn't have happened," he said, adding:
Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners. Our job is to effectuate policy changes that expands and protects our members' right of self-defense... Unequivocally we support open carry, we've been the leader of open carry efforts across this country, the leader in opposing efforts to curtail the ability to carry firearms, and that's something we're proud of and we do every day for our members.
You can see video footage of his statement below (the relevant part starts at about 1:12, the word "mistake" happens at about 2:23):
Cox's defense of open carry came soon after the NRA was hit with criticism by Open Carry Texas, which was one of the groups leading the "bring your rifles to restaurants" campaign. The group said in (rather incendiary) statement posted on their Facebook page:
It is unfortunate that an organization that claims to be dedicated to the preservation of gun rights would attack another organization fighting so hard for those rights in Texas... The NRA has refused to learn for themselves how Open Carry Texas (OCT) conducts itself other than what the liberal media and Bloomberg funded gun control extremists have falsely portrayed.
The group continued to demand an apology, and also some praise:
If they do not retract their disgusting and disrespectful comments, OCT will have no choice but to withdraw its full support of the NRA and establish relationships with other gun rights organizations that fight for ALL gun rights, instead of just paying them lip service the way the NRA appears to be doing. The NRA should have instead released a statement to the effect that it applauds our groups for coming together and finding new methods to promote safe and responsible open carry.
The group, which fights for open carry laws in Texas, says that the NRA has failed to secure gun rights in Texas. Cox agreed, saying "what we have in Texas is somewhat unique because it's a shared goal. All of us believe that the limitation and the prohibition on openly carrying a handgun in Texas needs to be changed." For what it's worth, Open Carry Texas did seem to acknowledge that their protest tactics were maybe not the best strategy."OCT - along with Come And Take It Texas, Texas Carry and Gun Rights Across America - has already changed its methods."
In summary: The NRA is a-okay with these open carry demonstrations and definitely does not think they are weird. Feel free to listen to the rest of the interview for the NRA's NRA-sanctioned view on who's to blame for the shooting spree in California and who poses a threat to gun owners.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.