HOUSTON -- Many Texans are closely following a developing story involving gun rights. The group Open Carry Texas has been demonstrating for an open carry law by taking guns into stores and restaurants.
Then came criticism from the NRA, but backlash has now triggered a new NRA response.
Thank you all for supporting our 2nd Amendment, an Open Carry Texas protester told a man on the street.
They've been popping up at businesses and street corners in North Texas: protesters strapped with long guns, calling for a change to state law, to let concealed carry permit holders carry guns out in the open too.
But it's sparked criticism from an unexpected place. A web article from the NRA's lobbying arm on Friday called the open carry demonstrations downright scary and said they're counterproductive for the gun-owning community.
They re divisive words across the state, including at Jim Pruett's Guns and Ammo in Houston.
I think it was wrong of the NRA to take the position that they did. These are citizens out there, demonstrating, said the store s owner Jim Pruett. They care and they want to have that right.
One customer in the store, Wayne Grover, countered, Why would you want to carry a long gun out in public?
It's the only kind protesters can legally carry, to make their point. Right now you cannot carry a handgun openly in Texas. Permitted owners can openly carry long guns, including rifles like AR-15s and AK-47s. But critics say those are the guns that can be intimidating and upsetting to people.
The businesses are going to retaliate, eventually, and they ll say no guns at all, said Grover. No concealed handguns, no rifles, no nothing.
Still, amid the controversy, the NRA has since called the article a mistake, one staffer's personal opinion.
Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners, said Chris Cox, Executive Director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA s political and lobbying arm.
Meanwhile the debate continues within the gun community over whether open carry is even a good idea.
The obvious reason to have a concealed handgun, you re not letting the predator know you have a gun, so why display it? said Grover.
Pruett agreed with his customer, but added, If there were several open carry people in there, I think that would prevent the loony from shooting up the place.