DALLAS – A gun-owning Texas Democrat said banning the open carry of long guns or military style rifles might prevent another mass shooting like what happened at a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday.
"If the gentlemen had not been allowed to carry this weapon openly, maybe somebody calls. Maybe as he's gearing up and crossing the street from the Valero [gas station], maybe somebody calls and says 'Hey there's a guy with an AR 15 [rifle] crossing the street. Send help,” said State Rep. Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass.
Nevarez, whose district runs from west of San Antonio almost to El Paso, said he owns three military style rifles. But he argued there’s nothing lost in banning people from openly carrying such firearms on city streets.
"Why can't you just carry your concealed handgun or open carry. You know we passed open carry. The fact is we're not going to have the carnage that we have. You might have someone go shoot some place up because that might be virtually impossible to stop and that's admitted but you're not going to have this type of carnage,” added Rep. Nevarez.
The earliest Texas lawmakers might consider a ban on the open carry of long guns is when the legislature reconvenes in 2019.
After the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last month, there was a bi-partisan push to ban bump stocks; those devices that make semi-automatic rifles fire faster. Still, Congress isn’t likely to consider that until next year.
After worshippers were gunned down in the Texas church, answers aren't as easy.
"I think where you might see some discussion on a bi-partisan basis is on mental health issues and then the other issue is domestic abuse,” said Matt Mackowiak, Potomac Strategy Group. “We've seen domestic abuse be very common in some of these shooting situations.”
It was in Sunday’s shooting, as well. Devin Kelley, the suspected shooter, was convicted of it while serving in the U.S. Air Force and should not have been able to buy a firearm. But the Air Force did not report that as Pentagon rules require. An investigation into it is underway.
Still, investigators discovered Kelley left 15 empty magazines at the church. Each one holds 30 bullets.
He used a Ruger-made AR style semi-automatic rifle with large capacity magazines; similar to weapons used in Orlando and Las Vegas.
There’s no discussion of Congress renewing the assault weapons ban. The 10-year-old ban expired in 2004 after studies showed the law did not reduce gun murders.
After 20 children and six adults were murdered in their classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013, the U.S. Senate considered a new ban on assault rifles. But 15 Democrats joined Republicans voting against it.