Category Archives: Uncategorized

OCT STATEMENT ON JUDICIAL ACTIVISM

Judicial-ActivismTemple, TX, January 14, 2018– Open Carry Texas is an issues-based advocacy organization and, as such, does not endorse candidates for public office. It does advocate for the Second Amendment Rights of Texans and provides information, as appropriate, for the consideration of voters about the positions of candidates for office so that they may make informed decisions when casting their ballots.

It has been brought to the attention of Open Carry Texas that a candidate for the 322nd District Court position has, in a prior judicial capacity, engaged in judicial activism, issuing orders not requested by either party to the litigation and unsupported by evidence of record.

The specific case involved a Michael Keith Ives, a party to divorce proceedings in Judge James Munford’s Family Court. The court order, issued on the Court’s own initiative, without motion by either party or supporting evidence, prohibited Mr. Ives from possessing or using firearms. Mr. Ives is an avid hunter and the order had the effect of preventing him from participating in that activity. He was also prohibited from otherwise possessing firearms even though there was no evidence supporting a conclusion that Mr. Ives had in any way used or threatened the use of violence or firearms in any way against his spouse or children or would otherwise justify such an order. That order was overturned in subsequent judicial proceedings.

Judicial activism such as this has a substantial chilling effect upon the rights of other litigants and casts doubt on the impartiality of the judiciary. Open Carry Texas supports the rule of law and urges voters who share those concerns to carefully evaluate the record of candidates for office, not merely their claims, especially those which merely claim to support the Second Amendment.

It appears that Judge Munford has issued other unsolicited orders involving parents’ rights to discipline children as is permissible under state law.

Judge Munford’s opponent in the Republican Primary for the 322nd District Court Judgeship is Jennifer Moore, the attorney who represented Mr. Ives, and fought for his Second Amendment Rights. On her campaign website she pledges to render fair and consistent verdicts consistent with the law, exercise Judicial Restraint and Oppose Judicial Activism, respect and protect the First and Second Amendments.

Open Carry Texas submits these issues for consideration when deciding on a candidate for the 322nd District Court position.

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.

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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.

Open Carry Texas Announces Committee Substitute for HB 375

Open Carry Texas has been dedicated to unlicensed, constitutional carry since our founding. Last session, OCT was instrumental in helping to get HB 195 filed, which was nearly identical to the current HB 375 constitutional carry bill. However, HB 375 had some holes and omissions that needed to be fixed, so we worked closely with Representative Jonathan Stickland, Representative Matt Rinaldi, Lonestar Gun Rights, National Association of Gun Rights, and Texas Firearms Freedom to improve the bill. HB 375 will allow anyone not prohibited from owning a firearm to carry that firearm without a license. Currently 13 states have entrusted their citizens to carry a handgun openly or concealed without a license and another 20 states allow unlicensed open carry of a handgun. Texas is one of only 17 states that requires law abiding citizens to obtain a license to carry a handgun in public.

In an effort to provide full disclosure and transparency to our efforts in the legislature, we are ready to publicly release the final version of our committee substitute which we believe makes HB 375 the strongest and most comprehensive constitutional carry bill filed this session.  The committee substitute is available to the public here: 2017 HB 375 Committee Substitute (v1 BWP) (1).

HB 375 is currently scheduled for a hearing in the Homeland Security and Public Safety on March 28, 2017 and we encourage all supporters to arrive early to register for the bill and/or testify.

The Battle of the Lege

By: CJ Grisham, President, Open Carry Texas
I want to urge caution and issue some advice to those willing to listen and understand the fight for constitutional carry. The bottom line is that we want the abolition of all gun laws that are unconstitutional (which is nearly all of them). My intent with writing the previous comparison post was not to attack any bill, but simply to provide a comparison for those who were asking what the difference was between the two and then give my opinion about which one I think is better. In the end, they both further our interests. Now, a reality check:
 
Anyone that whines and complains because the two bills filed are not “real constitutional carry” have absolutely zero understanding of the legislative process and political climate. There are 181 people in the Texas legislature. Of those, 66 are democrats who we’ll get absolutely zero support from. Of the remaining 115 republicans, there are probably a dozen or more that are really democrats in liberal areas, but can’t win on the democrat ticket due to straight ticket voting so they run as republicans. Then, you have the squishy republicans who are big government republicans and not liberty republicans. The number of legislators that are pure constitutionalists in the Texas legislature is probably only in the 20s or 30s at best. Those are the people that support limited government, states’ rights, nullify all federal gun control laws within the state, abolish all gun free zones and limitations to carry, protection from illegal search and seizure, etc.
 
With all that said, think really hard about the likelihood of a pure constitutional carry bill getting passed. Both Stickland and White understand that, which is why neither bill can necessarily be considered “constitutional carry.” So, let’s just call them both what they are – “unlicensed carry” bills.
 
The fact is that whether we like it or not, the kinds of laws that get passed or repealed are entirely dependent on the people we send to Austin. You and I can’t go into a committee and say, “here’s my constitutional carry bill. Let’s have a hearing.” It doesn’t work that way. Richard Briscoe and I (and Terry Holcomb Sr. of Texas Carry) have been beating the hallways looking for support for unlicensed carry. If you think this is a walk in the park try it. Hell, just try talking to your own legislator and see how hard it is to get a commitment from them. The FACT is that both unlicensed carry bills are going to be an uphill battle. Our politicians do NOT want to give up their control and tax money. It isn’t that they support the idea of unlicensed, but they also support milking tax payers for all they can. Unfortunately, the latter usually carrying more weight.
 
So, knowing that they already don’t want to give up control even considering the bills filed, what good does it do to whine, moan, and complain that they aren’t truly “constitutional” carry bills? If we walk out of this capitol in June with unlicensed carry, IT WILL BE HUGE – no matter which bill made it happen. I’m going to push HB 375, but I’m not going to attack HB 1911. I personally have my reservations about both because I’m a constitutionalist, but I also have a rational understanding of the political landscape and what is actually possible.
 
I’m not saying we give up fighting at all. That’s why we are working on amendments to whichever bill gets a hearing (hopefully both). And if each bill gets a hearing, I’m going to testify in favor of both of them. I won’t say that x bill is better than y bill; I’m simply going to say that x bill is great at the x bill hearing and y bill is great at the y bill hearing. Attacking the “other” bill only give politicians and opponents a reason to oppose both. I’ve made clear which one I prefer, but both are MUCH better than what we have now.
 
There is LOT to fix in regards to Texas gun laws. We have had over 140 years of infringements that must be undone. Open Carry Texas and the grassroots movement has only been around for a little less than 4 years. Deep sea divers are always eager to ascend back to civilization, but if they do so too quickly it can be deadly. The nitrogen in the body can’t handle that drastic of a change in pressure in a short amount of time. The legislative body and the general body of the public isn’t much different – whether we like it or not.
 
So, as you’re contacting your representatives to support one of the two unlicensed carry bills, ignore whichever is the other one. Don’t even bring it up. Just tell them to sign on to the bill you support. There’s no need to attack one bill over the other because then those issues can be used against whichever one starts moving – if any. I’m not happy that there are “competing” bills, but it is what it is. We can chop off our nose to spite our face or we can push for more terrain. I will tell you that when 1911 gets a hearing, I’m going to go in there and enthusiastically endorse it. I’m also going to enthusiastically support 375 when it gets a hearing. 
 
In every war, the goal is complete annihilation of the enemy – in this case, unconstitutional gun laws. However, very few wars are won the moment they begin. Terrain is won and lost, but as long as you’re always further ahead than when you started, you’re still winning. I will continue to fight the war, but I also recognize that victory may consist of many battles. As long as we are the ones moving the front line deeper into enemy territory, we have to understand that it isn’t a loss just because the enemy still exists to fight.

Attorney General Releases Opinion on Government Property Leased By Non-Profit Entity

Summary: as long as a Non-Profit entity is not contracted to perform a government function, the government entity is not the decision maker over the building, or there is not another government entity inside the building, a Non-Profit that is exclusively leasing government property MAY post notice under 30.06 or 30.07. Here is the text of the decision in response to Erath County Judge Lisa Pence:

 

Dear Ms. Pence:

You explain that in your county “at least two non-profit agencies … have offices located on land owned” by a city. You further explain that those agencies are the only entities located on the specific properties in question, that no governmental offices are located on the properties, and that the city “has no authority as to the operation of the non-profit and all decisions are made by an independent board of directors.”

Given these facts you ask whether handguns may be prohibited by a nonprofit entity when the entity’s offices are located on property owned by a city or governmental entity. You base your questions on section 411.209 of the Government Code and sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Penal Code, and we will address each of these provisions in tum.

The Eighty-fourth Legislature enacted section 411.209 of the Government Code, which prohibits state agencies and political subdivisions from providing notice that a licensed handgun carrier is prohibited from entry to a location other than those articulated in the Penal Code:

A state agency or a political subdivision of the state may not provide notice by a communication described by Section 30.06, Penal Code, or by any sign expressly· referring to that law or to a concealed handgun license, that a license holder carrying a handgun under the authority of this subchapter is prohibited from entering or remaining
on a premises or other place owned or leased by the governmental entity unless license holders are prohibited from carrying a handgun on the premises or other place by Section 46.03 or 46.035, Penal Code.

TEX. Gov’T CODE§ 411.209(a). A state agency or political subdivision found in violation of this provision is ‘liable for a civil penalty administered by the attorney general. Id. § 41 l .209(b )-(h).
Relevant to your request, the prohibition in subsection 41 l.209(a) applies only to “a state agency or political subdivision of the state.” Id. § 41 l.209(a). Section 411.209 does not address whether a private entity, including an independent nonprofit entity, may provide notice to license holders that the carrying of handguns is prohibited in its offices. If a private entity is operating jointly with a governmental entity or has been hired by the governmental entity to perform certain governmental functions, fact questions could arise about which entity effectively posted a notice prohibiting the carrying of guns. However, under the facts you describe, the private, nonprofit
entity appears to have an arms-length agreement to lease city property and is not otherwise affiliated with the city. See Request Letter at 1. “As a general rule, a lessor relinquishes possession
or occupancy of the premises to the lessee.” Levesque v. Wilkens, 57 S.W.3d 499, 504 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, no pet.). In such circumstances, section 411.209 does not apply to a city that leases property to a nonprofit entity that provides notice that a license holder carrying a handgun is prohibited from entry. As long as the state agency or political subdivision leasing the property to the nonprofit entity has no control over the decision to post such notice, the state agency or political subdivision lessor would not be the entity responsible for the posting and would
therefore not be subject to a civil penalty under section 411.209. See TEX. Gov’T CODE § 41 l.209(a).
Whether sections 30.06 and 30.07 of the Penal Code make it an offense for a person carrying a handgun to enter property leased by a nonprofit entity from a state agency or political
subdivision is a separate question. See Request Letter at 1. Subsections 30.06(a) and 30.07(a) make it an offense for a license holder to carry a handgun, either concealed or openly, “on property of another without effective consent,” when the license holder “received notice that entry on the property by a license holder … was forbidden.” TEX. PENAL CODE §§ 30.06(a), .07(a). Subsections 30.06(e) and 30.07(e) create exceptions to the application of those sections if “the property on which the license holder … carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035.” Id.§ 30.06(e); see id.§ 30.07(e). We must therefore determine whether these exceptions to the offenses apply to property that is owned by a governmental entity but leased to a private, nonprofit organization.

When the Legislature enacted subsection 30.06(e), its stated focus was on local
governmental entities that were prohibiting concealed handguns from public places. See House Research Org., Bill Analysis, Tex. S.B. 501, 78th Leg., R.S. (May 9, 2003) at 4 (“A city’s ban on
concealed handguns in public buildings could make it needlessly difficult for a person lawfully carrying a concealed handgun to perform necessary tasks such as paying a utility bill or renewing
a car registration.”). Nothing in the text of the statute itself nor in the legislative history suggests that the Legislature considered whether private entities that leased property from a governmental
entity were required to allow the carrying of handguns on the property that they lease. The fact that the Legislature created a civil penalty in section 411.209 of the Government Code only for state agencies and political subdivisions provides some contextual support for the idea that the Legislature may not have intended to require private lessees of governmental property to allow handguns on that property. See TEX. Gov’T CODE§ 41 l.209(a).

Nevertheless, when construing statutes, courts recognize that the words the Legislature chooses are “the surest guide to legislative intent.” Fitzgerald v. Advanced Spine Fixation Sys., Inc., 996 S.W.2d 864, 866 (Tex. 1999). When possible, courts will discern legislative intent from the plain meaning of the words chosen, and only when words are ambiguous will courts “resort to rules of construction or extrinsic aids.” Entergy Gulf States, Inc., 282 S.W.3d 433, 437 (Tex. 2009). The plain language of subsections 30.06(e) and 30.07(e) make an exception ifthe property on which the license holder carries a gun “is owned or leased by a governmental entity.” TEX.
PENAL CODE§§ 30.06(e), .07(e). These statutes make no exception to that exception for property owned by a governmental entity but leased to a private entity, and to conclude that carrying a handgun on such property is prohibited would therefore require reading language into the statute beyond what the Legislature included. See Entergy Gulf States, Inc., 282 S.W.3d at 443 (noting that courts “refrain from rewriting text that lawmakers chose”). Thus, a court would likely conclude that a license holder carrying a handgun on property that is not a premises or other place from which the license holder is prohibited from carrying under sections 46.03 or 46.035 of the Penal Code and that is owned by a governmental entity but leased to a private entity is excepted
from the offenses in 30.06(a) and 30.07(a)

Open Carry Texas statement following dallas shooting

Temple, TX, July 11, 2016 – In light of the abhorrent tragedy that occurred in Dallas last week, we would like to address the current push to change or abolish our right to keep and bear arms. It goes without saying that our condolences are with the families and victims. Since Texas became an independent nation in 1836, the right to bear long arms has been a lawful act. This is nothing new and has nothing to do with the recently passed handgun open carry law. To suggest that open carry had any role in the shooting, the response, or the aftermath is unsupported by the facts and is both wrong and deplorable.

The fact is that there is ample evidence on social media that law enforcement was not confused during the shooting about who was a good guy and who was a bad guy with a gun. Video evidence is clear that officers felt quite at ease during the incident in the presence of open carriers. Once an individual was identified, he promptly turned himself in to assure the public that he wasn’t a threat. We applaud his actions, but condemn Dallas PD for continuing to hold his lawfully possessed firearm even after clearing him.

In light of this incident, Open Carry Texas (OCT) has several suggestions for both law enforcement and open carriers should a similar, highly unlikely event ever occur again.

We applaud law enforcement for the professional and competent manner in which they quickly identified the source of the mayhem and their bravery in confronting it. We reject the notion, as posited in the media by the Chief and Mayor, that officers aren’t intelligent enough to tell the difference between a “good guy and a bad guy.” What is the difference between law enforcement treating the public this way and the public asking how they are supposed to tell the difference between a “good cop and a bad cop.” Both are offensive to hear, but both are equally accurate. It’s a simple concept to tell the difference: the good guys are shooting in the same direction as law enforcement (or not at all) and the bad guys are shooting at them. The good guy responds to police orders. The bad guy does not. Over the past three years, OCT has had numerous encounters with law enforcement around the state, from big cities to small rural towns. These officers have demonstrated time and time again the ability to tell the difference. If Soldiers in combat can do it successfully, we have full faith and confidence that law enforcement officers can as well.

Even suggesting that open carry played a factor, this is attributed to how some in law enforcement view a law abiding citizenry. All too often, we are viewed as a threat or the enemy. There is a perception that only law enforcement should be allowed to carry a weapon in public. This creates animosity and distrust between the law enforcement and gun rights communities. This must change. Law enforcement departments must experience a paradigm shift in their mentality and accept gun owners as an ally, not an adversary. Throughout history, there are stories of law abiding citizens helping law enforcement suppress a threats and having their back. We call on law enforcement to return to this model. There is not an infinite number of police in this country and working with the citizenry instead of against them only results in safer communities. They must stop viewing law abiding citizens with a firearm as suspects.

We applaud Mark Hughes for immediately making himself available to law enforcement as soon as he found out he was considered a suspect. While he disagree with his decision to voluntarily surrender his firearm and DPD keeping his firearm, we praise his good judgment in defusing what could have been a deadly situation. We would like to offer a few suggestions for open carriers in these instances.

First, if carrying a handgun, keep it in a holster and keep your hands off of it unless needed. If you are carrying a long arm, rifle or shotgun, carry it in a non-threatening manner. We suggest carrying it on a single point sling to the side or on your back. This more easily puts people nearby at greater ease.

Second, if you find yourself in the vicinity of an active shooter and your life is not in danger, do not get involved, if possible. Obviously, society is filled with veterans and others whose personal values and honor require that they run towards gun shots instead of against them, but make sure you understand the risks in doing so and are cognizant of those around you. Coordinate with law enforcement if at all possible and obey orders from law enforcement officers.

Third, if your life is in immediate danger, defend yourself with judicious marksmanship. The risk at that point of being shot by law enforcement is no different than the risk of being shot by an active shooter. Once the threat is neutralized, immediately go back to a non-threatening posture by either holstering your weapon if you have a handgun or placing it on your back if you have a rifle. If/when law enforcement arrives, it is a good idea to work with them as they survey the area to ascertain what happened and who is at fault. However, it is important to realize that if you are taken into custody as a potential suspect, it may be a good idea to stop talking and contact your attorney. We encourage our members and all gun owners to obtain gun owner legal protection – like SelfDefenseFund.com or Firearm Legal Protection – so they are protected under such circumstances.

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 Constitution 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.

SCOTUS Abortion Decision A Win For Gun Rights

You heard that right. The Supreme Court recently ruled in a 5-3 vote that Texas’ laws to ensure the safety of women desiring to kill their unborn babies were unconstitutional. The Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case may have been a case about so-called abortion rights, but the court inadvertently gave gun rights advocates something to cheer about.

The majority Hellerstedt decision, in responding to the dissenting justice’s arguments, contended that the law requiring certain sanitary and admittance procedures be followed for abortion clinics to perform their grotesque acts of infanticide could not be based on the Kermit Gosnell scandal (click the link for information about that since we won’t go into detail here), the doctor convicted for murdering three infants who were born alive in a botched abortion. The court said that, in essence, you can’t point to the bad behavior of some to punish the rest.

Gosnell’s behavior was terribly wrong. But there is no reason to believe that an extra layer of regulation would have affected that behavior. Determined wrongdoers, already ignoring existing statutes and safety measures, are unlikely to be convinced to adopt safe practices by a new overlay of regulations. Regardless, Gosnell’s deplorable crimes could escape detection only because his facility went uninspected for more than 15 years…Pre-existing Texas law already contained numerous detailed regulations covering abortion facilities, including a requirement that facilities be inspected at least annually…The record contains nothing to suggest that H. B. 2 would be more effective than pre-existing Texas law at deterring wrongdoers like Gosnell from criminal behavior.

Any future gun control cases could easily reference this case to argue that deterring people who use guns in criminal activities isn’t assured through more gun control. Any so called “assault weapons ban” would be especially vulnerable since they are used in such a minuscule number of shootings. The “gun show loophole” is likewise suspect since criminals intent on buying and selling guns won’t submit to BGC anyway. You don’t stop criminal behavior by punishing law abiding citizens.

The fact is that passing more laws aren’t going to deter someone hellbent on committing heinous crimes. However, those same laws will make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to defend themselves against such people. Without realizing it, SCOTUS just handed us a minor victory.