The City of Arlington is strengthening the wording on two ordinances regarding guns at city council and handing out pamphlets in traffic.
The council voted 8 to 1 on Tuesday night to amend the handout law, prohibiting people from soliciting or passing out pamphlets or information to drivers in the road. Then, the council voted unanimously to ban long guns, black powder pistols and fake guns from any government meetings.
There was an incredible show of arms outside Arlington City Hall on Tuesday night, where Open Carry advocates protested the decisions, saying the actions trample their First and Second Amendment rights.
“They're pointing out our group only and not others, so if it was a safety issue, they would have the safety and concerns for everyone not just one group,” said Kory Watkins with Open Carry Tarrant County.
Recent cell phone video shows Open Carry members marching at Arlington intersections, passing out business cards and pocketsize copies of the U.S. Constitution while legally carrying their weapons.
In March, Arlington police cited two individuals for impeding the roadway.
But Open Carry members say amending the law affects other organizations that do the same thing.
“You guys are affecting not our organization, you're affecting the Shriners, Toys for Tots,” said Zachary Clark, who opposes the handout law. “You're going to affect organizations that actually give back to the community, and that's sad.”
Still, some Arlington residents begged the council for the change.
“I don't oppose people's right to carry, but I oppose the fact that they can wave their guns around on busy intersections and frighten people,” said Kim Martinez, who supports the handout law.
It is legal in Texas to openly carry long guns and some antique handguns. State law prohibits concealed handguns, with or without a permit, at government meetings.
The council cited safety as its main reason for the changes.
“Criminals are cowards and they're not going to mess with somebody who is armed...it just doesn't work like that,” said Watkins.
Dallas and Fort Worth already prohibit long guns at government meetings and have metal detectors, which Arlington does not.
Because the weapons ban passed unanimously, it does not have to be read again at city council. As far as the handout law, though, because there was one dissention, it will have to be read and re-voted on by the council in May.
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