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NRA Retracts Statement Calling Open Carry Rallies 'Downright Weird'

Posted: June 4, 2014

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Recent remarks about carrying rifles in public reflected the opinion of a staffer, rather than the organization, the National Rifle Association says.

Kory Watkins, a coordinator for Open Carry Tarrant County, and his wife, Janie, gather for a demonstration in Haltom City, Texas. The NRA posted a statement calling this kind of open carry rally counterproductive; on Tuesday, it retracted the statement.

Kory Watkins, a coordinator for Open Carry Tarrant County, and his wife, Janie, gather for a demonstration in Haltom City, Texas. The NRA posted a statement calling this kind of open carry rally counterproductive; on Tuesday, it retracted the statement. Tony Gutierrez

A few days after posting a criticism of "open carry" rallies, the National Rifle Association says the statement reflected a staffer's opinion, not the stance of the organization, reports member station KERA.

The NRA statement, dated May 30, was posted on the website of the Institute for Legislative Action, the group's lobbying arm. Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA-ILA, said in an interview on an NRA show Tuesday that the release of the statement "was a mistake" and "it shouldn't have happened."

The original unsigned post responded to events in Texas where demonstrators carried rifles in public places. The statement reads in part:

"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.

" ... Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners. That's not the Texas way. And that's certainly not the NRA way."

Open carry supporters have garnered negative publicity in the past few weeks, as KERA reports: "A couple of weeks ago, gun supporters showed up at a Chipotle in Dallas with military-style rifles. And others dined with rifles at a Chili's in San Antonio."

In Texas, it's legal to openly carry long guns, but not handguns; now both Chili's and Chipotle are asking customers not to carry any guns in their restaurants.

Open Carry Texas, one of the groups organizing the rallies, posted a statement on Facebook calling the original NRA-ILA remarks "disgusting and disrespectful," and threatening to "withdraw its full support of the NRA."

After Cox's announcement Tuesday, Open Carry Texas posted again on Facebook, thanking the NRA for the clarification. The group also says: "With or without support of the NRA, our mission is unchanged: to legalize open carry of modern handguns in Texas and to continue to educate and train Texans in regard to safely carrying firearms openly."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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