Open carry advocates in the Lone Star State are crossing their fingers and hoping that 2015 will be the year in which the state’s 140-year-old ban on open carry is finally struck down. That hope rides on a number of bills awaiting the start of the legislative session in January, along with promises from Governor-elect Greg Abbot to push for more gun rights.
“If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas,” Abbot told the Associated Press.
Despite Texas’s reputation as a gun-friendly state, it is one of only a handful of states that do not allow open carry. Lawmakers have have tried to push bills that would legalize open carry for years, and five of the bills that activists are keeping an eye on are nearly identical to the ones that have been filed for the last two legislative sessions. Yet with a Republican-dominated Legislature and a pro-gun Governor-elect, advocates are optimistic for next year.
“We will not compromise on our rights,” C.J. Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas, told The Texas Tribune. “We absolutely will not.”
Beginning earlier this year, Open Carry Texas found itself the target of a campaign by gun control groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The group accused Open Carry Texas members of holding armed rallies in public places such as stores and restaurants. In the controversy that followed, Target and Chipotle announced that firearms would be no longer permissible in their stores. The Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action is still petitioning Kroger to close their locations to open carry activists.
“Moms Demand Action supporters have delivered more than 300,000 petition signatures to Kroger stores and driven nearly 13,000 phone calls to Kroger headquarters—and their leadership still hasn’t taken action to create common-sense policies that would stop allowing the open carry of guns in its stores,” wrote the group on its website.
Open Carry Texas even came into conflict with some other gun rights groups, including gun owners who believed that the group was moving too aggressively. Larger organizations such as the NRA and its affiliate the Texas State Rifle Association have stated that they will be watching the bills closely, and support any bill that protects and expands gun rights in Texas.