Members of the Dallas chapter of Moms Demand Action, a group that supports gun control through “gun sense”, were met with the sight of forty armed members of Open Carry Texas outside of the restaurant where they were meeting on Saturday.
This use of intimidation as protest is not a new tactic for “gun rights” advocates. According to Think Progress, a group of armed men showed up at a Moms Demand Action rally in March. Gun advocates will also be holding their own rallies this December, on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Shooting.
More on the incident, and the unfolding interaction between Moms Demand Action and Open Carry Texas, below the jump. The meeting at Blue Mesa Grill in Dallas was extended as members of the group and other customers at the restaurant waited two hours for the crowd of people openly carrying weapons to disperse. According to a spokeswoman for MDA, the manager of the restaurant did not want to call the police, because they were afraid of “inciting a riot.”
Moms Demand Action posted a picture of the group on their facebook page, which garnered quite a bit of attention.
The image was posted with this caption:
WHAT ARE THESE MEN DOING? No, they're not military defending our country or police responding to a mass shooting. They're members of Open Carry Texas and they showed up earlier today to protest a membership meeting being held by four members of Moms Demand Action inside a restaurant in Dallas. These men, armed with semi-automatic rifles, terrified customers and passersby.
In response, Open Carry Texas pointed out that the picture was taken of the group while they were posing for a camera. OCT suggests that the angle of the picture creates a more terrifying scene than what was actually taking place.
Hey Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, here's your chance to get your ideas out in public. The president of Open Carry Texas, CJ Grisham, is issuing an open invite and challenge to MDA President Shannon Watts to debate the issue of “gun sense” (gun control) versus gun rights (supporting the constitution). Since we are issuing the challenge, Shannon may pick anywhere in the State of Texas to hold the event and OCT will pay for the venue.
We will also accept the Texas Chapter President of MDA if Shannon doesn't feel intelligent or confident enough to handle an open debate. OCT will NOT be open carry at the event so MDA can feel safe and secure in its ignorance and false sense of safety. Shannon may email her response CJ directly from her official email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The ball is in your court.
Part of Open Carry Texas' mission is to “condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry.” Perhaps targeting a small group of women, who the armed members of OCT outnumbered ten to one, and cornering them in a restaurant like an ambush isn't the best way to garner support and ease anxiety about the open carry of firearms in Texas. Further, “conditioning” sounds an awful lot like something that happens to someone who may not be all that receptive to the process.
It is clear from their response that OCT has nothing but disdain for the members and leadership of MDA. Though they paint themselves as open to a dialogue, even offering to pay for the venue and to ask their members not to carry openly, the tone of the message is antagonistic at best. Suggesting that the leader of MDA may not feel “intelligent or confident enough to handle open debate,” and going on to say that gun control advocates are “ignorant” and rely on a “false sense of safety,” does not sound incredibly promising for a productive conversation.
As statewide GOP candidates gear up for a primary in March, open carry joins a host of conservative and xenophobic issues on Dan Patrick's platform in his new bumper sticker:
If this crowd-sourced slogan is any indication, the use of intimidation and fear to promote open carry laws won't be going away any time soon.