To put this all in perspective, you need to know a little history of both Texas itself and the Open/Constitutional Carry movement currently underway. Texas Gun Rights: From Liberty To Tyranny And Back is a condensed, editorialized and updated version of the work of Stephen P. Halbrook in THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS IN TEXAS: THE INTENT OF THE FRAMERS OF THE BILLS OF RIGHTS which is a highly regarded disposition on the subject of Texas History and gun rights. As for the modern Open/Constitutional Carry movement in Texas, it was Come And Take It Texas that got the ball rolling and Sinister Anti-Gun Promotion At Capital Building Exposed gives you a brief history behind the movement and a look at the laws, non-laws and enforcement of both in Texas. Over the last two years Come And Take It Texas has been doing “open carry” walks with the ONLY firearms that are allowed to be openly carried in Texas, that being Rifles and Shotguns for the most part, with the exception of pre-1899 black powder pistols or replicas because they are not considered firearms under Texas law. Modern handguns have been banned from being openly carried in Texas for over a century. Since these walks began educating the public to the inconsistencies and absurdities within Texas gun laws, many more groups have joined the fight. Open Carry Texas, Texas Firearms Freedom and Lone Star Gun Rights, just to name a few.
With a little bit of history and some of the groups involved laid out, we come to Jan. 13th, 2015 in Austin Texas. Opening day of the 84th Texas Legislature and the battle lines are drawn. Let me preface this by saying that these open carry groups have gotten more than their fair share of “bad press” over the last couple of years, however they have accomplished some amazing feats as well. They showed up in Austin that Tuesday morning with much more than just long guns, antique pistols and a passion for freedom. Over the last two years, despite the “bad press,” they have significantly raised public awareness and public opinion of gun rights in Texas. They recruited, trained and seated a significant number of delegates to the Republican Convention of Texas and they secured the first grassroots-driven resolution for a legislative priority in the Texas Republican Platform. That resolution made Constitutional Carry a legislative priority for the Texas Republican Party for 2015. Also in their arsenal for opening day of the legislature, over 15,000 petitions in support of House Bill 195 which would make the open and/or concealed carry of modern handguns no longer require a permit, effectively bringing Constitutional Carry to Texas. Or as close to Constitutional Carry as possible on the state level without repealing the unconstitutional infringements in place at the federal level, such as the National Firearms Act, Background checks, etc.
In fact, part of the festivities that Tuesday morning took aim at the federal infringements as well. Come And Take It Texas (CATI-TX) set up a nifty new machine called a Ghost Gunner. A “ghost gun” is an un-serialized firearm that results from a private citizens completing the last 20% of the milling and drilling work to complete, for example an AR-15 lower. Serial numbers are only required for the manufacture and sale of firearms, if you complete the manufacture yourself for your own private use, then you have what the media refers to as a “ghost gun.” CATI, or to be precise private citizens, completed the manufacture of AR-15 lowers right there at the Capital. Meanwhile the other groups split up and visited every legislator’s office to drop of the petitions and each legislator got a stack of petitions from their constituents, each accompanied by dozens of Texans. Each stack of petitions was also accompanied by a copy of House Bill 195 already bearing Governor Greg Abbott’s signature in support of the measure. In spite of all of this, I’m sure there are many of you reading this article who were unaware of all or most of it and this is where the “colorful characters” I spoke of come into play.
As I said, what many grassroots activists lack in political savvy, they make up for in passion. That being said, passion is a double-edged sword that is often hard to control. Especially when that passion is met with condescension and manipulation in the form of Congressman Pancho Nevarez, the Democrat Representative from District 74 in far west Texas. Nevarez has a D+ rating from the Texas State Rifle Association, so it’s no surprise that he didn’t welcome the pro-gun activists with open arms. Despite delivering petitions from his constituents in support of HB195, he plainly stated that he would not be supporting the bill. Having had at least cordial interactions with other representatives, some of whom are very unlikely to support such a bill, this flat out denial of support or even consideration rubbed some the wrong way. Not being polished politicians, needless to say the discussion got somewhat boisterous and confrontational. Of course, this being the 21st century and the age of cell phone cameras and video, that video made the rounds and monopolized most of the coverage of the opening day events. Like much of the coverage of this running gun battle in Texas, the video was met with praise from some and disdain from others. Like many incidents of “bad press” in the past it was touted as a setback for the “gun nuts” and a source of division between the groups. However, having talked to the leaders of these groups, I can tell you that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
One thing I have learned about these grassroots groups in Texas is that despite their differences in their approach to the issue, they all share that passion for freedom and the restoration of rights that have been denied Texans for far too long. Some of them may be loud and obnoxious at times, but at the same time others are appealing to those who respond better to a more intellectual approach. While some are marching in the streets with their rifles slung over their shoulder, others are educating Texans in the political process. While some are “pushing the envelop” of legality and challenging what they believe to be unjust and unconstitutional laws, others are circulating petitions. The point here is that these grassroots groups are as different as the people who populate their ranks, but they are united in a common goal. Each draws its support from different segments of society through different means and approaches, but the overall effect is a large and rapidly growing base of public support for changes that restore the liberties that many have forgotten we even had. When politics meets We The People with a common goal, as different and diverse as we are, we can still unite and prevail in our civic duty as the overseers of the government WE created and the representatives that work for US.
1836 Texas Declaration of Independence and Declaration of Rights. Article 14 declared: “Every citizen shall have the right to bear arms in defence of himself and the republic.”
Texas Constitution of 1845, Article 1, Section 13: “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defence of himself and the State.”
“a statute which, under the pretence of regulating, amounts to a destruction of the right, or which requires arms to be so borne as to render them useless for the purpose of defence, would be clearly unconstitutional.” – Chief Justice Collier, State v. Reid, 1 Ala. 612 (1840)
If you are a freedom loving Texan, SIGN THE PETITION and join the grassroots efforts to restore the freedoms Texas was founded upon.
Jon Britton aka DoubleTap is Chief Operating Officer of CDH, Inc., a regular contributing author and regularly involved in most aspects of their social media. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and zombie stories to political advocacy. Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. As a founding member Cold Dead Hands his study of human nature and writing ability found a purpose. His zombie roots provided a variety of issues from prepping to human behavior under crisis to firearms that he applies to his advocacy for gun rights. A ravenous appetite for the study of history combined with his current events political junkie addiction led to him writing an e-book Gun Sense: Past, Present and Future.