Open Carry Proponents Run Victory Lap

Activists celebrate new rules with glocks, turkey subs

Open carry supporters celebrate the new open carry rules which went into effect Jan. 1. (Photo by Nina Hernandez)

January 1 marked the first day of open carry, and its proponents braved the chill for an unapologetic victory lap. They marched from the Capitol to the Subway at Eighth and Congress, where Open Carry Texas organizers announced the sandwich shop had invited them and their firearms inside.

It was kind of a buzzkill, to be honest. Glocks, holsters, camouflage, and ... turkey clubs? From there the group split between those who continued to march down Congress to Sixth Street, and those who dipped out of the cold for a Footlong.

Outside the Subway, OCT activist and former Texas Senate candidate C.J. Grisham chatted with a couple of protesters about being a Libertarian running in a Republican district. Minutes earlier he'd rallied the crowd, celebrating the return of open carry rights after a "140-year" struggle.

"There will never be a day that there will not be a gun in this country again," said Rafael Cortez, a Houston native who spent four years in the Marine Corps out of high school. "So why work against the grain? Might as well work with it, and arm people who want to protect themselves, give them the better information."

For a new Austinite, in this case 24-year-old Mirza Baig, the entire experience was a little unnerving. Baig came upon the protest on the way to visit the UT campus. He and his friend, Zaki Zuberi, cut through the Capitol grounds to catch a glimpse of the dome. "There's too many guns here; I don't feel safe," he joked to Zuberi as they escaped the crowd. "Seeing so many people openly carrying firearms – this is already a pretty safe area. It just makes me feel a little bit on edge," he told the Chronicle.

"I don't think they should totally ban firearms from the country," he said. "I definitely do think there needs to be some reform that needs to be taking place within the States. There's too many innocent people dying, and it's not what America was built upon."

Not everyone wearing an orange "Guns Save Lives" sticker would agree. Cortez said the only permit anyone should really need is the Bill of Rights. Veronica Reynaga, wife of OCT Houston administrator Miguel Rey­na­ga, said the ultimate goal is constitutional carry, which would remove permits from the equation entirely. The Reynagas' 15-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, joined her parents at the rally with a holster and a bright-green toy gun on her hip. "[My dad] owns a lot of guns, so when I was younger he showed me that they weren't a toy so I wouldn't mess with them. As I got older, he showed me how to use them. I like shooting guns; it's fun."

Loud pops in the distance interrupted momentarily. An OCT organizer told the group still shivering outside Subway that the assembly was possibly dogged by some counter-protesters armed with firecrackers. "So don't pull your guns out or do anything crazy."

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open carry, Open Carry Texas, Subway, C.J. Grisham

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