Open Carry Texas has gotten mixed reviews at TTAG. I’m not opposed to open carry as a political statement per se, just OCing like a d!ckhead. That expectation of not dressing and acting like a D-bag extends to more than just gun rights. Generally, I feel like you should dress nicely, act politely, and do everything you can to put a kind face on whatever our cause might be. In the case of Open Carry Texas, I have mixed feelings. They’ve occasionally gotten it right, but they’ve occasionally gotten it wrong, too. We’re all fallible. Either way, they’re marching through the 5th Ward in Houston tomorrow. Or at least they were . . .
OCT first blogged about it a month ago citing various statistics and figures for how the licensing scheme for a concealed handgun license in Texas is distinctly racist, a notion I don’t dispute in the slightest. OCT has also received some heat in the social media circles over the last few months for taking their demonstrations to largely “safe” places with some critics being as bold as to invite them to march through some of the poorest, blackest, and most crime ridden areas of Texas. Apparently OCT had decided the 5th Ward would do, and they were planning a demonstration to start at noon tomorrow. Full original presser from OCT below.
Monday, July 14, 2014, 11:10 pm
Temple, TX, July 15, 2014– On August 16, 2014, Open Carry Texas will be holding an event in the 5th Ward district of Houston. Like all of our events, the public is invited to take part in this event to celebrate our right to keep and bear arms and protest our antiquated gun laws.
“We are not going to be marching through 5th Ward,” said OCT Founder CJ Grisham, “we’re going to hopefully be marching with 5th Ward.”
Open Carry Texas believes that Texas’ gun laws continue to be rooted in racism. In order to obtain a concealed handgun license in Texas, one needs to shell out over $250 in fees and requirements to do so. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate in Texas was 14.4% in 2010, the date of the last census. In the African-American community, the poverty rate was 27.1%, nearly twice the state poverty rate and almost three times higher than non-Hispanic whites. In other words, the extreme cost to obtain a license in Texas – over $250 – disproportionately prevents African-Americans from getting one.
Texas law prevents anyone convicted of a Class B misdemeanor or higher from qualifying for a concealed handgun license for at least five years. The convictions do not need to be related to violence or even involve a gun. Some examples of “crimes” that will cause you to lose your CHL or fail to qualify for one are littering, writing a hot check, or even certain traffic infractions not involving another person.
If Texas were a country, it would have the highest incarceration rate than any other country. According to the DC-based Justice Policy Institute Director Vincent Schiraldi, “out of every 20 adult Texans you meet, one is under criminal justice control.” The black community is seven times more likely to be incarcerated than the white community. The Institute added that “nearly one in three young African American men in Texas is under some form of criminal justice control.” Because the black population is the most likely to be falsely convicted with a non-violent, non-gun related crime, their access to a license to legally defend themselves is extremely limited.
Much like the Jim Crow laws of the past, Texas gun laws seem geared towards preventing the minority community from exercising their rights. We aim to change that.
NeighborhoodScout reports that Houston ranks 15th among the most dangerous cities in America – ALL of America, which has over 19,000 total. And according to the City of Houston’s own website, the crime rate in 5th Ward is nearly three times greater than that of Houston as a whole.
Open Carry Texas is dedicated to abolishing these racist and xenophobic gun laws as quickly as possible. Texas should be leading the nation in allowing its citizens to keep and bear arms.NeighborhoodScout reports that Houston ranks 15th among the most dangerous cities in America – ALL of America, which has over 19,000 total. And according to the City of Houston’s own website, the crime rate in 5th Ward is nearly three times greater than that of Houston as a whole, mostly because the law abiding find it difficult to exercise their rights. Only the criminals are able to arm themselves and those that arm themselves for the purpose of self-defense find themselves in trouble just for carrying and never using the firearm.
We invite the community to join us on August 16th at noon to find out for themselves what we are about. We are excited to have special guest, Mr. Maurice Muhammed, National Director for The Initiative, whose mission is “to secure justice and fair treatment to all people. And end forever unjust and unfair discrimination and ridicule of Black people throughout the Earth.”
Gun rights belong to all humans, regardless of skin color.
I’ve long advocated that bringing more gun owners into the fold will require getting women and minorities on board. I’m not certain this is the best way to do it, but it is a strategy and they seem committed to it, and are saying all the right things. Local community organizer Quannell X doesn’t see it that way. From houstonpublicmedia.org.
“When in the hell did Open Carry Texas ever care about black folk being able to afford a firearm?” said Quanell X, a community activist and the leader of Houston’s New Black Panther Party. “You tell Open Carry Texas they can’t urinate on our leg and tell us it’s rain. We know better. You can’t be slick to a can of oil. That’s a con game.”
I was all ready to post this article this morning with a note about how I was going to try to make it when my brother in law, a Houston resident sent me Click2Houston’s update on the situation. As it is, OCT thought it would be prudent to meet with the community before they marched through. The aforementioned Mr. X had some choice words for CJ Grisham and the OCT crew.
“I’m going to tell you something homie, this is Fifth Ward, you ain’t coming in here running nothing,” community activist Quanell X said while flanked by members of the New Black Panther Party, who were holding assault rifles.
The two groups sat across from one another at a small folding table under a tree near the intersection of Lockwood and Lyons to discuss the details of the upcoming event.
Local 2 Investigates counted 15 Houston police officers on-hand to monitor the meeting.
Members of Open Carry Texas have held hundreds of events where members walk through communities openly carrying rifles and shotguns in support of Second Amendment rights. The group’s president, CJ Grisham, tried to explain why they chose the Fifth Ward for one of these events.
“We’re trying to touch as many people as possible with our message that an armed society is a polite society,” said Grisham.
The presidents of three Fifth Ward Civic Clubs shot back, questioning the group’s motives.
Other community leaders complained that the group should have reached out to them before scheduling an event.
Eventually the meeting devolved into a shouting match and officers had to step in to ease tensions.
As members of Open Carry Texas walked away from the table, they got a final warning.
“Saturday we will come and protect and defend our community because we don’t trust them,” said Quanell X. “Their motives are out of control.”
After the meeting and much consideration, OCT released the following presser.
Temple, TX, August 14, 2014 – Open Carry Texas is dedicated to the safe and legal carry of firearms. We believe that the Second Amendment is color blind and that everyone should be allowed to exercise this fundamental right without fear of retribution, harassment, or threats of violence.
Since the joint meeting in 5th Ward on Wednesday, several members of the community have reached out to us with a heartfelt desire to work together to make a 5th Ward event possible. It became obvious over the past few days that certain individuals in the area were intentionally pitting us against the community. After numerous phone calls and exchanges of emails with community leaders, the OCT board voted unanimously to postpone the event for a future date in order to give OCT and 5th Ward leadership an opportunity to overcome the controversy associated with this event.
“Our goal has always been to hold this demonstration with 5th Ward, not just in 5th Ward,” said OCT President CJ Grisham. “We have an opportunity to correct all the lies, miscommunication, and vitriol associated with this event and express our true intent. I’m more than happy to push this event back to make that happen.”
Open Carry Texas’ mission to educate the public about the need for lawful open carry will continue throughout the state. We will always face opposition to our goals and efforts, but we never stop finding ways to ensure our efforts are understood by those with whom our members come in contact.
We look forward to holding a peaceful demonstration with the historic 5th Ward in the near future. We will work with residents and leaders to pick a date that is conducive to a peaceful, friendly event. No new date has been chosen for the event at this time.
I’m retaining a healthy level of skepticism on this event. I think if done correctly, they’ll be able to highlight Texas’s restrictive policies on owning and carrying firearms. However, if done wrong, they’ll only provide more fodder for the media and anti-gunners to continue to drum the “gun owners are stupid, racist hicks” point louder and with more vigor.