The National Rifle Association has issued a public statement denouncing some highly publicized actions by open-carry advocates in Texas as "weird" and "counterproductive for the gun owning community."
The public actions have involved the open carry of long guns, which is legal in Texas. In recent weeks, some Texans have chosen to exercise that right in groups, either acting independently or in events organized by the organization Open Carry Texas.
Most of the incidents have involved groups of people patronizing restaurants while displaying long guns. Some national chains, including Starbucks, Chipotle and Jack in the Box have issued statements asking customers to leave guns at home.
The NRA’s May 30 statement praised the culture of gun ownership in Texas and said that the long-gun actions are a tactical mistake that harm, rather than help, the cause of gun owners.
Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
The statement went on to criticize the actions as the works of “attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior.”
The NRA stated its opposition to bans on firearms in restaurants, but said that provocative demonstrations “set the stage for further restrictions on our rights.”
Open Carry Texas responded to the statement by saying the NRA had sided with gun-control advocates.
"The NRA has lost its relevance and sided with #guncontrolextremists and their lapdog media," the group said on its Twitter account.
Earlier that week, a verbal confrontation between demonstrators and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran that took place on Memorial Day in Fort Worth attracted some attention on the Internet. Some open-carry activists have come under allegations of abusive and harassing behavior toward women.
Texas law allows the open display of rifles and shotguns. Texas requires a license to carry a concealed handgun. Private businesses are free to determine their own policies regarding firearms on their premises.