NRA Apologizes For Calling Open Carry Protests "Downright Weird," Says Statement Was "A Mistake"

Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

The National Rifle Association is walking back its statement criticizing gun activists who carry loaded assault weapons in public as a form of protest, with the NRA's top lobbyist apologizing and calling the statement "a mistake."

In recent months Open Carry Texas and several other gun activist groups have made headlines for openly carrying loaded assault weapons in public and into restaurants in the Dallas area. This tactic of attempting to "normalize" open carry of rifles has spectacularly backfired, as gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has persuaded several restaurant chains where open carry rallies were staged to ask customers not to bring firearms into their businesses.

On June 2, Mother Jones reported on a statement on the NRA's website that criticized the open carry protests as "downright weird" and suggested that the practice was "downright scary" to onlookers and "counterproductive for the gun owning community." The Mother Jones report was widely circulated in media as it was an aberration from the NRA's typical absolutist position on firearm issues. Open Carry Texas called the NRA's statement "disgusting and disrespectful" and some gun activists cut up their NRA membership cards.

The NRA's top lobbyist, Chris Cox, appeared on the NRA's radio show Cam & Company on June 3 to repudiate the NRA's article criticizing the open carry movement. Cox said that the statement was "a mistake" and that "it shouldn't have happened," adding "our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners." Cox also blamed the statement on a "staffer" who Cox said "expressed his personal opinion." Referencing media interest in the statement, Cox termed it a "distraction."

Cox went on to describe the NRA's official policy: "The National Rifle Association unapologetically and unflinchingly supports the right of self-defense and what that means is that our members and our supporters have a right to carry a firearm in any place they have a legal right to be. If that means open carry, we support open carry. If it means concealed carry, it means concealed carry. So unequivocally we support open carry, we've been the leader of open carry efforts across this country, the leader in opposing efforts to curtail the ability to carry firearms, and that's something we're proud of and we do every day for our members."

Cox added that the NRA "apologize[s] again for any confusion that that post caused."

COX: The truth is an alert went out that referred to this type of behavior as weird or somehow not normal, and that was a mistake. It shouldn't have happened. I've had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece and expressed his personal opinion. And our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners. Our job is to effectuate policy changes that expands and protects our members' right of self-defense. So this is a distraction, certainly the media has had a field day with it.

[...]

COX: The National Rifle Association unapologetically and unflinchingly supports the right of self-defense and what that means is that our members and our supporters have a right to carry a firearm in any place they have a legal right to be. If that means open carry, we support open carry. If it means concealed carry, it means concealed carry. So unequivocally we support open carry, we've been the leader of open carry efforts across this country, the leader in opposing efforts to curtail the ability to carry firearms, and that's something we're proud of and we do every day for our members.

During the segment, NRA News host Cam Edwards repeatedly told viewers that the statement was not NRA official policy. He instead described it as a "commentary piece."

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Guns
Stories/Interests
Guns, National Rifle Association
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