AUSTIN, Texas — When Governor-elect Greg Abbott announced his transition plans on Wednesday, he also reaffirmed his support for open carry in response to a reporter’s question, expressly stating that “if an open carry bill is passed by the House and Senate, and arrives at my desk, I will sign it into law.” Now, an anti-gun group has declared opposition to open carry in Texas, reports Fox 7 Austin.
In reaffirming his support for open carry, Abbott had pointed to other states that have less restrictive laws than Texas on this issue. “Texas, as I understand it. is one of only about 7 or so states in the United States of America that does not have open carry,” said Abbott. “If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas.”
While pro-gun rights groups cheered Abbott’s announcement, not everyone was happy. The anti-gun group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America denounced the idea of expanding open carry to Texas. One activist with the group, Claire Elizabeth, spoke to Fox 7 Austin in a phone interview and claimed that Massachusetts had better background checks than Texas. Elizabeth also complained that people could open carry guns and not know how to use them.
These claims were met with derision by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who told Fox 7 Austin that the Moms Demand Action group “don’t really know what they’re talking about,” pointing out that Elizabeth was mistaken that all gun sales in Massachusetts required background checks — sales between private citizens do not — while all commercial gun sellers in Texas do have to complete background checks. Overall, Patterson characterized the open carry debate as a liberty issue, saying that the open carry of guns was not inherently a good thing or a bad thing. “There is no reason to restrict liberty in any way if exercising that liberty is not hurtful. Open carry is not hurtful,” he said.
When Patterson was a State Senator, he authored and passed the bill that would become Texas’ concealed handgun law. Firearms homicides in Texas decreased by about forty percent after the law was passed. Arguably, this reduction was part of a national decrease in crime rates, but the “bloodbath in the streets” and “Wild West shoot-outs” that gun control advocates had ominously predicted would result from allowing concealed carry in Texas did not come to pass.
Moms Demand Action made headlines earlier this year with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a vocal supporter of gun control, donated $50 million to a joint project with Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. After Wendy Davis failed to win an election after her filibuster branded her as pro-choice in pro-life Texas, Moms Demand Action faces a similarly uphill battle in this conservative state.
As for Abbott, he is unlikely to be intimidated by the online media campaigns waged by Moms Demand Action. Staunchly in favor of gun rights, Abbott made headlines in January 2013 when he bought ads in Manhattan and Albany papers urging New York gun owners to move to Texas after the state passed a new gun control law. The ads also touted Texas’ low taxes, with one ad’s message saying, “WANTED: LAW ABIDING NEW YORK GUN OWNERS LOOKING FOR LOWER TAXES AND GREATER OPPORTUNITY.”
Photo credit: GregAbbott.com
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker