Updated 1/14 2:30: Rep. Nevárez has issued a statement, which you can read by clicking the image below.
Today the 84th Legislature started out with a bang as open carry gun advocates armed with petition signatures refused to leave a representative’s office after he did not agree to support their cause.
After the representative told the gun advocates they should look elsewhere for support they became verbally hostile asking him if he was aware of the 2nd Amendment and calling him a “tyrant to the constitution,” at which point he asked them to leave. When they refused he threatened to get DPS involved, then one of the offenders stuck his foot in the door to prevent it from closing, ensuring he got a couple more snarky jabs in before being entirely shut out.
“What are you going to do touch me or something? That’d be one wrong move bro,” an open carry advocate could be heard saying after he was shuffled out the door.
I spoke with Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass) in the hall and he told me he “probably owned more guns” than any of the characters that invaded his office and that because of their antics he is certain he would not be voting in favor of the constitutional carry bill.
Also known as HB 195 by Rep. Stickland (R-Bedford), “constitutional carry” would allow for the open carrying of a handgun as well as effectively remove regulations requiring a license to possess a concealed weapon.
The increasingly confrontational tactics used by some of the bills supporters has fragmented the grassroots who are pushing to liberalize gun laws in the state. Prior to the incident inside Rep. Poncho Nevárez’ office the expectation was that the highlight of the first day of session for the open carry movement would be the 3D printing of the lower receiver of assault-styled rifles just outside the gates of the Capitol grounds.
If the open carry advocates simply needed attention to get their bill passed, they would be well on their way, because the confrontation which took place in the early afternoon had nearly 50,000 views on Facebook by the time this article was published.
They moved the ball backwards today in their efforts, and the author of their bill Rep. Stickland didn’t do the movement any favors by voting for Scott Turner (R-Frisco) who failed in his challenge to oust the current Speaker of the House. Despite Turner’s supporters’ claim that Speaker Joe Straus is too liberal to represent the majority Republican House, Straus has overseen some of the most conservative legislation in the country on issues from abortion to Voter ID.
Open Carry Texas (OCT) has, with varying degrees of success, tried to distance itself from the abrasive actions of Open Carry Tarrant County and Come and Take It Texas. Today in response to their actions OCT tweeted repeatedly that they were not involved and did not support such behavior or think that it was productive.
— Open Carry Texas (@OpenCarryTexas) January 13, 2015
Correction: An earlier version named the wrong member who had filed open carry legislation that would still require a license, it should have read Rep. James White.