As the open carry debates heats up in Texas, Open Carry Texas (OCT)–a gun group that has garnered national attention in recent weeks–has apparently been receiving threats on a regular basis. “We get death threats all the time,” C.J. Grisham, President of OCT, told Breitbart Texas.
Grisham’s group received substantial press coverage when the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) released a statement on May 30 calling OCT’s demonstrations “downright weird” and “counter productive for the gun owning community.” While the NRA has since apologized for the comments, the national attention has led to OCT members receiving threats from angry individuals around the country.
“I’ve gotten letters with a printed-off photo of me with crosshairs on my face,” Grisham said. “Some people say, ‘If you ever open carry a rifle near me I’ll put a bullet in your head.’ But it doesn’t scare me. I’ve had people shooting at me before, I’m a soldier. I carry everywhere I go and I’m very aware of my surroundings.”
In face of such threats, OCT has been conducting activities as usual. Some group members carried their firearms in full display during a demonstration in Houston on Saturday. While the event was peaceful, some of the area’s residents were apparently frightened by the group.
Local media outlet KHOU 11 was reportedly “contacted by people who were frightened by the sight of men carrying rifles.”
“There were some scary moments for some in the Galleria area on Saturday,” the outlet reported.
Grisham told Breitbart Texas that his group walked down Post Oak street in Houston’s Galleria area. “We just walked up and down the road,” he said. “We got a bunch of honks and a bunch of middle fingers.”
Grisham said such demonstrations generate productive conversation about gun rights in Texas.
“We had lots people come up to us and ask us why we’re doing this,” he said. “People always come up and say, ‘How am I supposed to know you’re a good guy or a bad guy?’ We always respond, ‘You just walked up to us. Would you walk up to an armed guy robbing a bank?'”
Grisham added that being intimidated by open carriers “isn’t a problem here in Texas.”
Despite KHOU’s report, Grisham believes that the individuals who are supposedly threatened by OCT’s demonstrations are from out-of-state. “The people who are feeling threatened are feeling threatened because they see a picture on Facebook,” he said. “We do things in a way that does not threaten people. Whether you like it or not, guns are a part of texas culture.”
The NRA initially took issue with OCT after some of its armed members were asked to leave Sonic and Chili’s restaurants last month for entering with AK-47’s in full display. “Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners,” the NRA said in a statement. “That’s not the Texas way. And that’s certainly not the NRA way.”
“The NRA has apologized for that statement and moved on,” Grisham said. “The relationship with us and the NRA is, if they’re going to support open carry then we’re going to work with them.”
Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinBTate.