A controversial gun-rights group in Texas responded angrily over the weekend to criticism from the National Rifle Association, going so far as to accuse the NRA of siding with "gun control extremists" and the "lapdog media."
FACT: The @NRA has done NOTHING in Texas to fight 4 open carry of handguns like 45 other states. Last year we were told it wasn't important.— Open Carry Texas (@OpenCarryTexas) June 1, 2014
"We don't fight for rights at the discretion of the [NRA]. They've never supported open carry," Open Carry Texas added. “The NRA has lost its relevance and sided with #guncontrolextremists and their lapdog media."
Open Carry Texas, which claims its primary focus is to "educate" and "condition Texans to feel safe around" gun owners who openly carry their weapons, achieved notoriety after it staged several demonstrations at public venues, including Starbucks, Chili's and Chipotle Mexican Grill, that resulted in those businesses asking customers to refrain from bringing firearms onto their premises.
Responding to the flurry of headlines generated by the Texas-based gun-rights group, the NRA in a statement on its Institute for Legislative Action website said while it supports responsible gun ownership, it opposes efforts that could result in tougher restrictions.
"[W]hile unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 [mm] rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms," the NRA statement said.
"Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary," the statement added. " It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates."
The NRA statement criticized the Texas group for violating the goodwill of several businesses and for showing a lack of consideration for other customers.
"In summary, NRA certainly does not support bans on personalized guns or on carrying firearms in public, including in restaurants," the statement said. "We think people are intelligent enough to resolve these issues in a reasonable way for themselves. But when people act without thinking, or without consideration for others – especially when it comes to firearms – they set the stage for further restrictions on our rights."
"Firearm owners face enough challenges these days; we don't need to be victims of friendly fire," the NRA added.
But the open carry group appears to be unmoved by the NRA's criticism.
"The irony is laughable that suddenly #guncontrolextremists are quoting the @NRA like they now have relevance to each other. Maybe they do," the group tweeted.