Stephen Lee, Open Carry Tyler (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -
Tuesday, the NRA apologized to a Texas gun rights group for calling them "downright weird and scary."
Open Carry Texas has been on a public campaign, holding rallies at restaurants that ban firearms. The members of Open Carry Texas enter the restaurants while openly carrying their assault rifles. Open Carry Texas members, including those in East Texas, say they feel insulted by the NRA’s criticism. However, there are other gun rights enthusiasts who agree with the NRA’s original statement and say Open Carry Texas is going too far.
“Sure, for some people it may be scary, but those are the very same people we're trying to educate to make them know that we're not here in a violent way. We shouldn't be demonized because we choose to protect ourselves,” said Stephen Lee, one of the founders of Open Carry Tyler.
Lee said he founded Open Carry Tyler to exercise his Second Amendment rights.
He said, “I wanted to stand up for that right that was granted to me by my creator, and the best way to do it was to exercise it.”
Lee’s group has held rallies in East Texas in an effort to legalize the open carrying of firearms in Texas. He said the NRA’s attack of Open Carry Texas’ tactics is disappointing.
“It's really unfortunate that an organization that claims to fight for Second Amendment rights would kind of lump a group of people all together… and in the process really try to tear those people down in a really disrespectful and personal way,” he said.
Attorney Sean Healy, a gun rights advocate and instructor, says he completely agrees with the NRA’s original comments that called the demonstrations by Open Carry Texas "weird and scary."
“If somebody walked into my office with an AR-15 or a rifle or a shotgun, I’m going to come downstairs with mine. Mine's going to be drawn, loaded, and in my hand because that's not something normal, reasonable people do,” said Healy.
He said Open Carry members should exercise judgment before their demonstrations.
“If the point is to convince more people to join the fight for freedom and to agree with us, then we need to do that gently and diplomatically and reasonably, and this doesn't seem to be coming off that way,” said Healy.
Open Carry Tyler’s Stephen Lee said they always work in connection with law enforcement before any of their rallies.