“Stop Making Sense” is the title of a mid-1980s concert documentary about the group Talking Heads. It’s also basically the admonition the National Rifle Association gave to one of its own after the staffer had the audacity to suggest that the groups of knuckleheads carrying assault-type weapons around and into restaurants and other public places in Texas might be a little loose in the head and actually acting to the detriment of gun-rights efforts.
The uproar began last week when the NRA issued a statement about gun activists, mostly affiliated with a group called Open Carry Texas, who were getting together, arming themselves heavily and wandering around, frightening other people, at such places as fast-food eateries, hardware stores, the Texas Capitol and even the Alamo in support of legislation to grant Texans the right to openly carry weapons pretty much anywhere they please. As it stands now, Texans can’t openly carry handguns, but there’s nothing in the law preventing them from wielding rifles and shotguns in public places, provided they don’t alarm others. Good luck with that.
The NRA said in an online post, “Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.”
The statement said the roving armed gang approach “defies common sense.”
Who could argue with that? Well, the NRA.
You see, according to Chris Cox, who heads the NRA’s lobbying organization, the statement was a mistake and was issued by some sort of rogue staff member who was expressing his personal opinion. “There was some confusion, we apologize, again, for any confusion that that post caused.”
That’s their story.
It couldn’t have been, could it, that the NRA backed down under intense public pressure from the very numskulls it had criticized in the first place?
The open-carry folks certainly weren’t happy. In a Houston Chronicle story, Open Carry Texas founder C.J. Grisham excoriated the NRA and said he and his cohorts were dedicated to their mission of proving to the state Legislature “that we’re not yahoos or weird or anything like that.”
On its Facebook page, the group posted a statement saying “it is unfortunate that an organization that claims to be dedicated to the preservation of gun rights would attack another organization fighting so hard for those rights in Texas.”
It seems the folks at Open Carry Texas are a bit misguided. The NRA long ago stopped being an organization that primarily supports sportsmen and gun owners. Its raison d’etre these days is to represent gun manufacturers.
But that aside, it’s our belief that the NRA had it right the first time, with its first statement.
In a time when mass shootings occur in this country with horrifying regularity, the last thing that’s needed in Texas or anywhere else is greater leeway for people of unknown background, training and mental state to carry weapons in public. Some argue that an armed populace would make it less likely for a would-be mass killer to get away with a massacre. But we believe that any benefit seen in thwarting an armed assailant would be greatly outweighed by the almost certain increase in the incidence of other shootings. For every reasonable, level-headed person armed with a handgun, there would be another more inclined to shoot first and ask questions later at the slightest provocation. They are the ones we shouldn’t encourage.