"Handshakes and honks of approval"? But they were holding the guns!
I sent the following letter to the editor of the Mansfield News-Mirror after this article appeared, under a different headline, in last week's local paper. The article described recent public demonstrations by members of Open Carry Texas, a group of gun-rights activists that lobbies legislators to relax laws for gun ownership and public carrying. They have "patrolled" Mansfield intersections lately with AR-15s and AK-47s slung over their shoulders.
April 15, 2014
Thank you for reporting on the recent appearances of Open Carry Texas on the streets of Mansfield.
The opening paragraph of the article mentioned the “thumbs up, handshakes and honks of approval” the group received as their members patrolled a busy intersection in our town. It would have been difficult to quantify, by contrast, the shock and anxiety the sight provoked in many citizens.
How many parents like myself locked the doors of the car and told our kids not to make eye contact? How many of us were stammering for an explanation for why, in the most prosperous and free country in the world, where we live among the most generous and gentle neighbors we could ask for, some people feel it is necessary to publicly display weapons that are meant only to kill human beings? I’m not usually at a loss for words. But I could not explain this to my kids.
(Reasonable answers were made even more difficult by the apparent minor status of several of the demonstrators. In what world is it okay to put guns into the hands of children? Have we not been paying attention to what frustrated and suffering children can do to each other when they have gun power at their disposal?)
Let me be clear: there is no reason under the sun for individuals to own such weapons. But if they do, in accordance with federal, state, and local laws, there is no reason that they should be carried and brandished in a populated area where every person is just trying to get through the end of the day the best they can. There is no reason to express such hostility toward (and fear of) one’s fellow human beings by using weapons of mass destruction as “fashion accessories,” as suggested by the Open Carry representative quoted in your article.
I would love to see Mansfield law enforcement and government officials deal with this issue head-on. The problem is not whether Open Carry Texas members are distributing propaganda. The problem is that they’re doing it with the potential for menace and mayhem strapped to their backs.
grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Katie Hays, Galileo Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)