OCT to Protest Illegal and Unconstitutional Pole Ordinance that Effectively Bans the Flying of Our State and National Flag

Temple, TX, April 4, 2017– Open Carry Texas (OCT) is dedicated to the preservation of the 2nd amendment protected right to keep and bear arms. We do not just believe in protecting gun rights, but the right to bear all arms.

Houston ordinance Section 28-33 (Carrying clubs, poles, etc., in demonstrations, picket lines, etc.) states that “No person shall carry or possess while participating in any demonstration, rally, picket line or public assembly, any stick, board, pole, stave, rod, plank, pipe, stud, cane, staff, slat, or similar object” unless it is ¼” thick and 2” thick if rectangular or ¾” inch at its thickest point if round. It also mandates that all such poles and staffs be made of “wood, wood products, or other cellulose materials.” This effectively bans most flagpoles.

Recently, several of our members have been ordered by Houston Police Officers to stop carrying their flags because the poles used to proudly fly them aloft and free violate this ordinance. These orders and the ordinance violate both the Texas and United States Flag Code. The United States Code, Chapter 36, which dictates the display and use of the American flag, is very specific that “the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.” It is nearly impossible to fly a flag aloft without a staff. It goes on to say that it “should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.” Forcing citizens to carry a flag without its staff not only violates federal law, but exposes it to dangers of being easily torn or damaged. A carried flag, as ordered by HPD and the unconstitutional ordinance, does not allow the flag to be “aloft and free.” The Texas Flag Code is nearly identical.

The city claims that this ordinance is necessary because these flags can be used as weapons. We take extreme exception to this narrative; however, since the City is claiming these flags are weapons, we are protesting to defend our right to keep and bear arms while proudly flying our state and national flags. OCT carries flags at nearly every single one of our rallies around the state without issue and we take pride in our patriotism. Many of our members honorably served their nation in combat under these flags. This ordinance is a slap in the face to their service and sacrifice.

On April 7 at noon, OCT and like-minded patriots will rally at Houston Police Department Headquarters in open defiance of this illegal and unconstitutional ordinance. The purpose is to force the City to either recognize our right to fly our flags proudly on whatever staff we see fit or cite us for violating the code. The City will have to choose between enforcing a City ordinance or enforcing state and federal law. The two are not compatible.

OCT has retained legal council to fight this ordinance. If the City won’t do the right thing by repealing this ordinance or ordering its officers to cease enforcement, our courts will have to do it for them.

We implore the City to do the right thing and not risk wasting taxpayer money fighting over an ordinance that is being wrongly interpreted to exclude the flying of our flags. The City should instead focus its limited law enforcement resources on ordinances that actually affect the citizens of Houston and immediately cease imposing nanny state policies that micro-manage every aspect of our lives.

OCT is an organization dedicated to the safe and legal carry of firearms in the State of Texas in accordance with the United States and Texas Constitutions and applicable laws.

About Open Carry Texas: Our purpose is to 1) educate all Texans about their right to carry in a safe manner; 2) to condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry them; 3) encourage our elected officials to pass constitutional carry legislation for all firearms; and 4) foster a cooperative relationship with local law enforcement in the furtherance of these goals with an eye towards preventing negative encounters.

For more information, contact CJ Grisham at cj@opencarrytexas.org 254-383-8238.

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