Gun enthusiasts push for change to Arlington handout law - Dallas News |

Gun enthusiasts push for change to Arlington handout law

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Some gun enthusiasts took their fight to change the city's handout law to Arlington City Hall on Tuesday night.

The gun protesters are known for going up to drivers and handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution, but the Arlington ordinance says it can't be done that way.

In recent weeks, Arlington residents have seen the protesters' demonstrations, and some have been concerned enough to call police.

 "As a police department, we can't just say, ‘Oh, well, we assume that's open carry," said Lt. Chris Cook with the Arlington Police Department. "We can't be desensitized to persons with weapons calls."

Marches by the group Open Carry Texas have become a heated topic in Arlington. The debate has been fueled by videos, including confrontations with police, which group members film and post to social media.

At Tuesday night's meeting, dozens of open carry supporters hold their Constitutions high, protesting the handout law. Knowing the issue would be a hot topic, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck limited speaking on the issue to only 30 minutes, which angered many.

"Tonight with you just changing the rules on the fly to not having citizen participation to two minutes a piece, that's something a tyrant would do," said one man in attendance.

It is legal in Texas to openly carry long guns and some antique handguns. Lt. Cook says that's not the problem.

"The conduct by which this ordinance is being enforced increases the public's opinion that our prestigious law enforcement officers are becoming public bullies," said David Lesley with Open Carry Texas.

A couple of weeks ago, members of Open Carry Texas  received tickets for violating an Arlington city ordinance, which says you can't step into the street to distribute literature –- something a video clearly shows members of Open Carry Texas doing as they hand out copies of the Constitution.

"We don't want people entering the roadway," said Cook. "So we're going to uphold the city ordinance."

Open Carry Texas wants Arlington City Council members to change the ordinance to allow the group into the streets. Even if they don't, Kory Watkins says it won't stop him.

"The ordinance is unconstitutional," said Watkins. "Absolutely. It impedes on my right to give another citizen that is volunteeringly [sic] wanting it.  That's freedom of speech; freedom of press."

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