The Texas gun debate has gone wild, wild west.
A confrontation between gun owners and a state lawmaker who later was given a state security detail. Panic buttons installed in legislative offices. Guns made and displayed at the Capitol gates.
What many thought was a slam-dunk in the Republican-controlled Legislature, allowing the open carry of handguns in Texas, turned into a tempest in the opening weeks of the session. And its chances of passing seemed to further diminish when one of the state’s most outspoken conservatives flip-flopped on whether it’s even a priority issue.
The antics have left some gun-rights advocates shaking their heads.
“(Open carry) has been pushed off the rails by the nut jobs,” said Jerry Patterson, a former Marine, gun enthusiast and open-carry advocate who wrote the state’s concealed handgun license law as a state lawmaker in the early 1990s.
Although Texas has more than 800,000 concealed handgun license holders, it is one of only six states that don’t allow open carry, a ban that dates almost to the Civil War. But open carry looked primed to pass this year with strong support from Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Republicans.