Folowing several high-profile and controversial open carry demonstrations here in Texas at chains like Chipotle and Jack In The Box, the National Rifle Association declared that they consider it “downright weird” to “draw attention to oneself or one’s cause” by walking into a fast food chain holding an AR-15 or an AK-47. 

In an article posted to the “News and Issues” section of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s website, the organization spares few words in decrying the open carry organizations. After opening the post opining about the potential dangers of “smart guns,” they turn their eye to Texas

The second example comes to us from the Lone Star State, which is second to none for its robust gun culture.  We applaud Texans for that, but a small number have recently crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness.

Now we love AR-15s and AKs as much as anybody, and we know that these sorts of semiautomatic carbines are among the most popular, fastest selling firearms in America today.  Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn’t ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity.  Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this.

The post goes on to describe some of the demonstrations at Chipotle and Jack In The Box that have garnered headlines here in Texas, and the action taken by Chipotle and Jack In The Box to make it clear to patrons that guns are not welcome in their stores after the high-profile activities of the open Carry groups in North Texas.

The incident at the Jack In The Box was especially high-profile, as police statements from Fort Worth Sgt. Ray Bush (which we reported here) indicated that employees of the store hid in a walk-in freezer to avoid what they thought was an armed robbery; Jack In The Box communications staff later clarified that this did not occur. Nonetheless, the chain did follow-up the incident by requesting that customers not bring guns into their stores.  

On their Facebook page, Open Carry Texas has been counting the number of Jack In The Box stores robbed throughout the country in the three and a half weeks since the company made its request. That would seem to be a telling statistic, except that at least that many stores were robbed in a similar timeframe the month before Jack In The Box found itself an unlikely entrant into the gun control/open carry debate of 2014. 

Nonetheless, the Jack In The Box incident—like similar incidents at Chipotle and Sonic restaurants—were on the mind of the NRA when they posted about Open Carry groups

Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary.  It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here).  In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that’s counterproductive for the gun owning community.

More to the point, it’s just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners.  That’s not the Texas way.  And that’s certainly not the NRA way.

Of course, there are two sides to every public break-up, and Open Carry Texas today released its own statement about the NRA, explaining that the Open Carry Texas organization has “already changed its tactics,” rendering the entire post unnecessary: 

The NRA has refused to learn for themselves how Open Carry Texas (OCT) conducts itself other than what the liberal media and Bloomberg funded gun control extremists have falsely portrayed. The real ignorance in their statement is that it was completely unnecessary. OCT—along with Come And Take It Texas, Texas Carry and Gun Rights Across America—has already changed its methods and the whole world is aware of that.

Folks can decide for themselves whether or not “the whole world is aware” that Open Carry Texas issued a statement a week earlier asking members to notify police, carry signs, and avoid chain businesses without prior permission.

In general, it can be difficult to keep track of the policies of the various North Texas gun rights organizations; earlier in May, Open Carry Texas publicly split with Open Carry Tarrant County over rules like the ones OCT posted. (Neither group, though, was mentioned by name by the NRA.)

But it is interesting to watch the various factions on the pro-gun side of the dispute stake out their own territory on the issue of open carry. The Tarrant County group seems to think it’s a rejection of personal liberty to suggest that people shouldn’t walk into a restaurant with a semi-automatic rifle, while Open Carry Texas believes demonstrations are reasonable so long as leaders have alerted the police beforehand and are waving flags indicating to passers-by what they’re up to. The NRA, meanwhile, considers all of this to be “downright weird,” “scary” “foolishness” that’s “unneighborly,” which presumably puts them on the same side as a lot of people who never thought they’d agree with the NRA about anything

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)