Protests over Texas’ quirky open carry law and an expansive new background check law in Illinois are the latest in a seemingly never-ending debate over Second Amendment rights in America.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed a new gun control bill into law mandating that even gun sales between private citizens be subject to a background check.
Meanwhile, in Texas, gun owners took to the streets with rifles strapped to their backs to peacefully protest their inability to openly carry handguns, even though the law allows them to carry semi-automatic long guns in public spaces.
“Every one of us out here would much rather open carry a pistol than open carry out rifle,” said protester and Second Amendment supporter Daniel Wood.
The Arlington, Texas, gun owners walked along city streets with their rifles to demonstrate the absurd nature of open carry gun laws in the state. The Lone Star State is one of just seven states that do not allow the open carry of a pistol.
The open carry protest in Arlington mirrored similar displays in other towns across Texas. Come and Take it Houston, a pro-gun group, stated that one of its primary goals of the armed walks was to educate others about local gun laws. Terry Holcomb Sr., a Huntsville, Texas, pastor, recently filmed himself walking into multiple businesses and public venues with his AR-15 Bushmaster.
According to local KHOU-TV, the AR-15 was loaded, chamber was empty, and the safety was on. Pastor Holcomb was asked to leave Walmart not long after he began pushing his cart around the store because the chain sells alcohol.
“We don’t want to carry our long guns,” Holcomb said. “We would prefer open carry of our handguns. But sine this is the option they give us, this is what we do and we’ll continue to do it until they remove that restriction.”
The Arlington open carry group informed local businesses about the open carry rifle event beforehand to prevent alarm in the community. While the pro-gun marchers stated they understood the police presence next to the walk, they hoped it would not continue at a future march.
“I can understand having this kind of police presence for our first walk in Arlington,” Wood said. “Moving forward, now that they see we’re law-abiding citizens, I think six would be overboard for a second walk. We really just want to shop people that a guy with a gun is not necessarily a bad thing.”
The individual rifle walks are part of a larger Open Carry Texas movement. The group wants to educate their fellow citizens about how to carry shotguns and rifles openly in a safe manner, create a cooperative atmosphere with law enforcement, and to convince lawmakers to approve less restrictive open carry laws.
The Illinois background check law also adds more obstacles to the Second Amendment, gun owners says. Prior state laws mandated that citizens are only subjected to background checks if purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer. The new law means that a man selling a gun he no longer wants to his neighbor or cousin, must also run a background check on the buyer. The new Illinois gun law requires firearms owners to notify the local police department of any stolen or lost weapons within 72 hours.
If background checks actually kept guns out of the hands of criminals, perhaps the new mandate might be an understandable added step – but they do not. As previously noted by Off The Grid News, Chicago has some of the most stringent gun laws in the United States — but also has the highest violent crime rate.