Two of the most visible open carry advocates in Texas would be left out if state lawmakers require licenses to carry non-concealed handguns.
CJ Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas, and Kory Watkins, leader of Open Carry Tarrant County, have arrests on Class B misdemeanor charges of interfering with the public duties of a peace officer, reported the Houston Chronicle.
Under the state’s current law, anyone convicted of Class A or B misdemeanors are unable to carry a concealed handgun for five years, and anyone arrested on those charges lose their concealed carry permit until the case is resolved.
Lawmakers are considering legislation to allow Texans to openly carry handguns, but any permits or license requirements would likely resemble state law on concealed weapons – which require a background check and a clean recent criminal record.
Grisham and Watkins have clashed over tactics, but both agree the current licensing law is unfair.
Watkins said he would never “ask for permission” to carry a weapon by applying for a license, and Grisham said the only people who should lose gun rights are those who “abuse those rights.”
Grisham was arrested during a hike with his son while carrying an AR-15 and is appealing his conviction for interfering with law enforcement officers’ duties.
Watkins and two other open carry activists were arrested in September while videotaping Arlington police officers with the Cop Watch group, and he’s due to appear in court next month.
Both gun activists argue that requiring a license and fees to carry concealed weapons violates their Second Amendment rights.
“We live in a constitutional republic and what that means is, it doesn’t matter what the other side says,” Watkins said. “I have a right to bear arms, and it shouldn’t be infringed upon.”
Grisham said he would sue the state if lawmakers require a license to openly carry handguns, saying the requirement was unconstitutional.
However, the former state senator who wrote the Texas concealed carry law disagrees.
“I don’t think there’s a legitimate case for that,” said former lawmaker Jerry Patterson. “No right is absolute.”