Assault rifles at the neighborhood Chipotle? Even the NRA thinks it’s ‘downright scary.’


Kayla Mulholland holds her 10-month-old twins, Rosalie, left, and Giancarlo Mulholland, during an event held by Open Carry Tarrant County in the parking lot of a Home Depot in North Richland Hills, Tex., on May 31, 2014. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News)

The NRA has a bone to pick with some overzealous gun owners. Normally the pro-gun lobby is a unified front against gun control advocates, even in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children.

But now the NRA says some Second Amendment enthusiasts have gone a step too far. A group of open carry advocates in Texas have recently taken to showing up at restaurants and stores with military-style assault rifles in tow.

While the NRA supports laws that allow people to carry firearms in public, it said in a statement issued Friday that the group has “crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness.”

Not only that, but “it’s just not neighborly,” the association said. “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.”

“It’s downright weird,” the powerful pro-gun lobby wrote, calling the display “counterproductive for the gun owning community.”

In other words, the group, Open Carry Tarrant County, which made headlines with its antics, is giving the cause a bad name.

After the group made heavily-armed visits to Chipotle and Jack in the Box, both businesses retreated from previous policies allowing customers to carry firearms if allowed by local law by asking customers not to bring weapons into their restaurants.

On Saturday, the day after the NRA issued the statement, about 150 members of Open Carry Tarrant County assembled in a Home Depot parking lot, the Dallas Morning News reported. Several women with semiautomatic rifles had children in tow. One woman managed to balance twins, one in each arm, with an assault weapon slung over her shoulders.

The group’s goal is to expand the state’s open carry law, which currently allows open display of rifles and shotguns, to include handguns.

But even the NRA says the group is frightening: “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.”

Lest you think the NRA has gone soft, it does not support a rollback of open carry laws, but just wants folks to be more considerate when packing heat in public. “NRA certainly does not support bans on personalized guns or on carrying firearms in public,” the statement read.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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