In the wake of Friday’s announcement that the Washington State Senate will no longer allow open carry of firearms in its gallery, a debate has erupted in the firearms community as to whether long gun open carry demonstrations advance or hurt the Second Amendment cause.
As one might guess, there are sharp opinions on both sides. However, this is not a discussion limited solely to the Evergreen State. This past week, a similar furor has erupted in Texas, as open carry activists reportedly confronted some state lawmakers in Austin. After that incident, the Texas House approved the installation of “panic buttons” in legislative offices.
One popular blogger, Bob Owens at Bearing Arms.com, verbally unloaded on one Texas group and their leader this week, calling them “knuckleheads.” Readers responding to the Seattle Times report yesterday are also engaging in some name-calling, intimating that a group of about 15-18 people who gathered on the Capitol steps in Olympia Thursday, before walking inside and entering the House gallery to pose with their rifles, may not be terribly bright.
There are some ironies here. The armed group entered the House gallery, but it was the Senate that yesterday banned openly carried firearms in its chamber. Concealed handguns will evidently still be allowed, but visible firearms are now being treated like other props of protest, such as signs or banners. There has long been a ban on protesting inside the legislative chambers.