FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Texas gun owners who want to legally carry handguns in public say they are divided on how to gain public backing for the idea.
Some open-carry advocates have been toting rifles and other long guns in public, but others say scaring people with the sight of such weapons is counter-productive, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday.
"I think the tactics some people have been using aren't helping that much," said Ben Ferguson, a conservative radio show host and staunch supporter of gun rights. "I just don't think you are going to win as many people to your side by walking around carrying rifles ... in public."
C.J. Grisham, president and chief executive officer of Open Carry Texas, disagrees.
"That's like saying if you want to fight for free speech, shut up," he said, adding, "if you don't exercise your rights, you'll lose them.
"We want to get people comfortable with seeing guns."
In an attempt to ease the tension some people experience at the sight of guns, members of Grisham's group have carried long guns while walking through neighborhoods and public places.
"Your average person isn't comfortable running into a person carrying a loaded AR-15 in the cheese aisle of the grocery store," said Janet Jones, co-leader of the Texas chapter of the pro-gun control group Moms Demand Action.
Jones said "extremists on the other end of the spectrum" have "hijacked the dialogue and are now trying to dictate to the rest of us what should be normal and acceptable."
A bill that would have allowed people with concealed weapons permits to openly carry handguns was filed in the Texas Legislature this year, but died in committee.
The issue can't be considered again until the next legislative session in 2015, but Grisham wants Gov. Rick Perry to call a special session to consider the issue before then.