Open carry activists fire off dueling messages

Advocates fighting for open carry at the state capitol are firing criticism, but not at opponents -- they're upset with a group of gun rights activists well known in North Texas.

Open Carry Tarrant County has long been critical of the City of Arlington, usually seen at intersections sporting their long guns and rifles.

The group's president, Kory Watkins, has made a name for himself as a self-proclaimed cop watcher.

But now, the larger umbrella group, Open Carry Texas, has said Watkins and his group have done more damage than good.

Groups like Open Carry Texas and Come and Take It Texas say they're furious over a confrontation that Watkins had almost two weeks ago with a Texas representative.

Watkins and members of his group visited several lawmakers' offices, and one of the confrontations drew criticism.

The groups are calling what Watkins did a setback to their push for open carry laws.

The confrontation was videotaped.

"You need to leave my office now," a representative says in one portion of the videotape.

"Read the Constitution," the open carry activist filming says.

"You need to leave my office," the representative says, trying to shut his door. "You need to leave my office. Leave my office…man, get your foot out of the door."

"What are you gonna do?" the open carry activist says.

The confrontation immediately drew a vote by lawmakers to get panic buttons in their offices, and other open carry groups lashed out at Watkins and his group.

C.J. Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas, said the stunt really hurt what they've been trying to accomplish for the past two years.

"We've had to do a lot of damage control, trying to convince legislators not to hold our bills hostage because of the actions of a very few, select number of people."

Grisham and other groups are going back to lawmakers again, asking them for a chance to be heard, and those groups are saying they've got a lot of ground to make up -- ground they lost two weeks ago.

"Some of the lawmakers expressed their reservations about passing open carry now because of that," said Grisham. "As despicable as those actions may have been the other day in that office, it's even more despicable for a lawmaker to hold up a bill that affects every Texan because of the actions of a few Texans."

There are a number of open carry bills that will be introduced into the legislature by some Texas representatives and those lawmakers will be pushing for those bills, but what weight that will carry remains to be seen.


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