Saying Texas firearm laws are overly restrictive, a group of gun advocates is lobbying state lawmakers to permit wearing handguns in plain view.
The Texas campaign is expected to intensify Tuesday with a radio message in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. The ad says, "We don't hide our colors, do we?" and encourages Texans to sign an online petition asking lawmakers to make Texas a place where people can openly wear their guns. More than 28,000 people have signed it so far.
"We are targeting Texas," said Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of www.opencarry.org, in a story Sunday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Get ready for a showdown in Austin come January."
Stollenwerk said Texas is one of the nation's most pro-gun states and promised an "awakening" when "Texans realize how restrictive their rights are."
Texas is one of six states -- along with New York, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina -- in which handguns can't be worn in plain view. The other 44 states, in the parlance of gun advocates, are known as "open-carry" states.
In Texas, people have to be licensed and pass a training course.
"So for a person to exercise their right to self-defense, they needs to shell out about $225 or more," gun advocate Duane Suddeth said.
He said an open-carry law would do away with the fees and would deter criminals.
"Criminals are not going to want to target a person who has the ability to fight back with lethal force," Suddeth said.
But Louis Alexander, who doesn't carry a gun, said he was concerned an open-carry law would mean a return to the Wild West.
"People walking around with guns in the wide open, they're just ready for a challenge, you know? 'I'm going to get you before you get me,'" he said.
Ralph Carroll, 48, said he views an open-carry law as another way for him to protect his three children. He said fears about increased gun violence after the passage of Texas' concealed-carry law haven't happened.
"I just simply want to ensure I have self-protection if the need arises," said Carroll, who lives in Van Zandt County. "The same reason I wear my seat belt, carry a spare tire and have a working fire extinguisher."
But gun owner Crystal Ellenbrook said even if Texas passed an open-carry law, she would continue to conceal hers."I think I would still conceal mine, because I think I would feel more safe," she said. "I think I would still conceal mine, because I think I would feel more safe," she said.