On May 7, the Austin-American Statesman posted video of Austin, Texas, gun store owner Michael Cargill supporting the drive to make Texas the 45th “open carry” state in the union. The video also featured Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo complaining that gun-rights advocates are never satisfied – no matter what laws are passed, or defeated, “it’s never enough” for them.
In the video, Cargill stood in his store, Central Texas Gun Works, holding an AR-15 and explaining how he can openly, legally carry that gun in Texas. “What we’re talking about now, we’re talking about being able to open carry just a handgun,” he said.
“There are actually 44 states in which you can open carry a handgun,” Cargill continued. “Texas is one of the few states where you cannot open carry a handgun. Chief Art Acevedo likes to say, ‘Well, it’s well-regulated.’ Well, you know what? That’s why we’re going to the legislature and we’re making sure it gets de-regulated.”
Chief Acevedo responded: “I always ask, ‘What are we trying to fix?’ A concealed hand license here – CHL – is working, [but] it’s never enough for some people.”
“The Constitution talks about firearm ownership and a ‘militia,'” Acevedo argued. “How is that translated to, ‘I can carry firearms anywhere I want, wherever I want?’ When you go to the extreme of whatever issue, left or right, it doesn’t matter, it’s exactly that – extreme. And neither is good.”
Cargill’s argument is that there is nothing “extreme” about doing what 44 states have already done. His position has withstood vigorous, and even hysterical, challenges.
On November 17, 2014, Breitbart News reported that gun control groups – particularly Moms Demand Action – went crazy over the notion of Texas becoming the 45th state to legalize open-carry. Their attempt to paint this as extreme were greatly diluted by the fact that 44 other states had already made open-carry legal.
Anti-gun politicians in some of those 44 states have added qualifications and regulations that make open-carry very difficult to exercise, but its legality is clearly on the books.
Texas lawmakers are positioning themselves to go open-carry without creating a myriad of regulatory hoops for citizens to jump through. Ideally, only the concealed hand license mentioned by Chief Acevedo would be required.
One of the open-carry bills under consideration goes a step further, stipulating that police cannot ask open carriers if they have a license for their gun, unless they suspect that person has committed a crime or intends to do so. In other words, the right to keep and openly bear arms would be presumed, unless police could present a clear justification for challenging it.
Chief Acevedo opposed this measure, suggesting it would render police powerless if “somebody calls [and says], ‘There’s a guy standing outside my house on the sidewalk, and he’s got a gun. I’m a little uncomfortable because I don’t know this guy, I’ve never seen him.'” In such a situation, Acevedo said police would be barred from approaching the individual and asking for his gun permit, unless he demonstrated clear criminal intent.
Cargill argued that’s exactly how open-carry should work. “There’s no reason [for the police to approach you]. You haven’t committed a crime, you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re just standing there going about your day,” he explained. “Why should that officer approach you to ask you for an ID? This is not Russia.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkns. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.