Guns could soon be prohibited during or near protests if a bill introduced by Texas State Democratic representative is approved.
Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) filed H.B 791, making it a Class B misdemeanor to carry a firearm within 500 feet of a protest.
Similarly, having a gun when participating in the demonstration would also be prohibited. Violators would face a $2,000 fine, spend 180 days in prison, or both.
The bill would undoubtedly ban Second Amendment protests in the Lone Star State. Texas currently allows permitless open carry of long guns. Handguns can be concealed or open carried with a permit near and during demonstrations.
According to the bill, the prohibition would apply where “one or more person in a public place who are demonstrating, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding a vigil, or engaging in any other similar conduct that involves the communication or expression of views or grievances and that has the effect, intent, or propensity to attract a crowd or onlookers.”
The bill’s language is overbroad and has a very low threshold in its determination of a protest. Consequently, almost any gathering could be considered a demonstration, putting many law-abiding gun owners at risk.
This bill is another failure of gun control that would have unintended consequences. However, it’s a deliberate attempt to create uncertainty so that gun owners would resort to leaving their firearms at home to avoid unwittingly getting themselves into trouble.
Texas Gun Sense board member Ed Scruggs lauded the bill saying that carrying firearms near or during protests creates a “hazardous situation.”
He added that bearing firearms makes it harder for law enforcement officers to maintain law and order. The anti-gun activist also alleged that firearms’ presence during protests hinders public discussion.
Contrary to Scruggs’ assertions, guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens make protests safer. The safety of the protests depends on the participating crowd rather than the presence of firearms.
For example, Second Amendment protests have the reputation of being the safest while “unarmed” Black Lives Matter riots are the most violent.
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