A group of open carry gun activists aggressively confronted a Texas Democratic lawmaker during the first day of the legislative session, prompting the state House on Wednesday to pass a rule allowing its members to install panic buttons in their offices should members of the public become hostile.
Armed gun rights activists from several different organizations gathered Tuesday at the Capitol to advocate for a bill approving unlicensed open carry of handguns.
The Houston Chronicle reported that about 15 to 20 members of the gun rights group Open Carry Tarrant County visited lawmakers’ offices to persuade them to vote yes on open carry bill HB195. Several lawmakers told the newspaper that the activists hassled their staff and made them feel “uncomfortable.”
Open Carry Tarrant County’s leader, Kory Watkins, posted video of one hostile visit to state Rep. Poncho Nevarez’s (D) office to YouTube and Facebook. In the video, Nevarez tells the activists that he won’t be voting in favor of HB195, to which they respond “you won’t be here very long, bro” and “you need to find a new job, bro.”
“As far as I’m concerned, you are a tyrant to the Constitution of the United States of America,” one activist says.
Nevarez then tells the activists that they’re no longer welcome and asks them to leave.
“I’m asking you to leave my state, ’cause you don’t take your oath seriously,” one activist responds. “Read the Constitution.”
As Nevarez tries to close the door to his office behind them, an activist lodges his foot in the door frame to keep it open.
“What are you gonna do?” he challenges Nevarez.
The leader of a separate gun rights group, Open Carry Texas, criticized the actions of Watkin’s group as detrimental to the effort to pass open carry legislation in the state:
Open Carry Texas is the same gun rights group that asked its members last summer to stop toting AR-15s into restaurants and retail stores, after getting into a spat with the National Rifle Association over its protest tactics.
Separately, armed members of a third advocacy group called Come and Take It Texas held a demonstration on the Capitol steps Tuesday in which activists manufactured weapons with a computer-controlled tool machine called the “Ghost Gunner.”
Following Open Carry Tarrant County’s visit to the Capitol, the state House passed a rule change that allows its lawmakers to eject members of the public from their offices “at their discretion,” according to the Chronicle. The rule change also allows House members to install panic buttons in their offices to alert the Department of Public Safety to disruptions.
Watch the confrontation below: