Dear Open Carry Texas,
As a Constitutional Conservative I support the Constitution especially the Bill of Rights and I agree with the premise that citizens should be allowed to carry firearms as a form of protection. With that said, I must disagree with the tactics your group has employed. Open carry of rifles may be meant to get others accustomed to seeing these firearms in public but I would contend that rifles are not the same as open carrying of pistols or sidearms.
First let’s look at rifles in general. Most people associate rifles and shotguns with hunting or home defense. It is one thing when you are hiking in a rural area where you could encounter wild and dangerous animals. In such a situation, a high powered rifle is a great thing to have. In an urban setting, a rifle is actually ineffective as a defensive weapon. They are bulky and unless you have them poised to fire, they can be slow in reaction time. Most log rifles are meant for distance shooting and do not do well in close quarters unless you have a bayonet attached to them. If you pay attention to the way the military handle rifles you would see that they are always holding them forward unless engaged with someone close then they have them slung to the back, but remember that they always have a sidearm ready for immediate action.
One of the stated goals of your organization is to get people comfortable around rifles in public. Public perception of rifles is not favorable but there could be repercussions to a society too comfortable around rifles. As it stands right now, most people who see a person carrying a rifle, whether strapped around the back or held to the front do not know the intent of the carrier. You also have to consider the imagery that is being projected here. I remember all those pictures that came out of the old Soviet Union with the uniformed patrols carrying AK-47’s and watching people on the street like hawks. Rifles have a high intimidation factor and for most people the sight of others carrying rifles is disturbing if not frightening. As we have seen in recent years, rifles, especially those considered to be assault rifles have been the weapon of choice in many mass shootings. Now you have to understand the anxiety of those who see a person walk into a restaurant with a rifle strapped around them. The thoughts of Aurora, Newtown, and Fort Hood come to mind. This cannot be the reaction you want to get. You may also want to consider your own safety. What if you walk in and someone with a pistol reacts to those thoughts and fires on you? Not knowing your intent could put you in a dangerous situation.
Finally, the tactics used by your organization are actually having a negative effect on those around you. Many business that had no problem with open carry of pistols are now becoming less friendly to all who carry firearms. While you do have the right to open carry rifles and shotguns in Texas, business owners have the right to decide what is allowed within their establishments. A great example is the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy that most food establishments have. While at the beach or pool, men can be shirtless and shoe-less and it is their right to do so. but it is the right of any business to say that you must wear a shirt and shoes when entering their establishment. Just remember while it is your right to open carry, try to be considerate of the businesses that must balance customer comfort and safety with the right to bear arms.