(Arlington, Texas, July 18 2014) This week the Open Carry movement in Texas won a First Amendment victory in Federal Court. The controversial movement, which has received criticism from mainstream gun organizations such as the NRA, aims to raise awareness about constitutional gun freedoms by open carrying long rifles in public spaces. Supporters say they feel safer with the gun activists around, critics worry about the dangers of guns in public spaces.
Open Carry Tarrant County recently challenged a new ordinance that was passed in the City of Arlington. The ordinance was amended in May and made it illegal to approach vehicles to pass out literature at intersections. OC Tarrant County says they do outreach by passing out copies of the Constitution. Under the new changes they were not allowed to do this activity.
The 2nd Amendment group disagreed and organizer Kory Watkins filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Arlington. On July 7th Federal Judge Reed O’Connor heard arguments from both sides. Arlington city attorneys attempted to prove the ordinance was an effort to make drivers and activists safer. OC Tarrant County believed they were being specifically targeted for their controversial activism.
CBS 11 reports that on Monday July 14th Judge O’Connor ruled in favor of Open Carry Tarrant County. The judge released a 26-page opinion declaring that regardless of tactics or message, causing some people to feel uncomfortable is not “a proper motivation for limiting free speech rights.” Furthermore he stated that the ordinance was “over inclusive and burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to achieve its interest in pedestrian and traffic safety.”
Arlington officials have yet to comment on the situation but the city can either repeal the ordinance or fight the issue further in court. In Texas it is legal to carry a rifle or a shotgun in public but not handguns.