For awhile, it appeared the NRA leadership committed an act of sanity. But, a few hours later, the pills wore off.
The story begins with a group called Open Carry Texas (OCT). This fringe group rubbed both its brain cells together, wrapped itself in what it erroneously believes is the Second Amendment, and decided it would be great theatre to bring semi-automatic carbines into family restaurants. Waving the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, a common sight at Tea Party rallies, OCT members handed out leaflets, proclaimed their rights to carry weapons and confronted citizens who had little desire to be in a place where civilians were carrying weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, any one of which could shred any one of their internal organs.
Openly carrying handguns in Texas is illegal, but the law permits anyone to openly carry long guns, from BB guns to semi-automatic military weapons.
Almost all OCT members are white men, but there are a few white women who also believe in their “right-to-carry.” Among them was a woman in Dallas who openly carried her 10-month-old twins and a semi-automatic assault weapon.
When Chipotle, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, and other coffee shops, restaurants, and department stores told these thugs, who can even make the rural folk of “Deliverance” appear to be civilized, they were welcome to eat, shop, and browse—but leave the weapons at home—Open Carry Texas escalated its public demonstrations.
The Open Carry people are the same folk who believe in states’ rights and the rights of private enterprise to do what they want when they want to do it because—well, business is what-fer makes ’Merika GREAT and the gummint ain’t no good nohow. Of course, when individuals and businesses exercise their own rights to refuse service to gun-toting menaces, then individual liberties and freedom don’t apply because these businesses, obviously, have been compromised by them lib’ral whackos who believe intimidation and fear should not be prevalent American cultural traits.
In an unsigned 1,400 word editorial, the NRA called Open Carry demonstrations “weird” and “scary.” That editorial also said such demonstrations were not “a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself.” It stated these outrageous demonstrations could cause open-minded folk to “feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.”
The editorial further stated that “using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That’s not the Texas way. And that’s certainly not the NRA way.”
That set off explosions of anger among the Open Carry Texas gaggle, who had apparently sprinkled an extra dose of steroids in their morning beer and cereal. They stomped their feet, held their breath, typed spurts of hatred onto Twitter and their Facebook page, tore up NRA membership cards, and said the group would stop supporting the NRA if it didn’t retract the editorial. Among the tweets, Open Carry Texas declared “The NRA has lost its relevance and side with #guncontrolextremists and their lapdog media.”
Within a couple of days, Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, posted a statement on the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action website. He said that the original editorial “was a mistake.” Cox said that the alert “shouldn’t have happened,” that calling Open Carry Texas “weird” and “scary” was “a poor word choice.” The retraction was clear—the NRA “unequivocally” is behind open carry laws. The chief lobbyist even said he had a “discussion” with the writer of the editorial and “explained” that the NRA doesn’t criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.
Everything’s now just hunky-dory between the NRA and the reactionary right-wing gun nuts.
During the week of the NRA/Open Carry Texas dust-up, and the NRA’s sloppy retreat from sanity, about 200 Americans were killed by firearms, about 350 Americans used guns to commit suicide, and about 1,000 Americans who were shot were treated in hospital emergency rooms, according to statistics compiled by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and based upon reports from the Centers for Disease Control.
Perhaps the next action by Open Carry Texas will be to take their weapons into ERs and claim that guns in hospitals are necessary to protect the critically wounded from being further assaulted by nurses carrying sawed-off shotguns in their smocks.
[Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an in-depth look at the economic, political, health, and environmental effects of fracking throughout the country.]