Bill would end open carry at demonstrations

By NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

A bill has been proposed at the state legislature that would make open carry illegal within 500 feet of a public demonstration, such as marching or picketing.

It's already against the law to use profane language, make threats, offensive gestures or threats at such gatherings. It's also illegal to fight.

State Senator Sarah Eckardt from Travis County says the current law already prohibits displaying weapons in a quote, manner calculated to alarm.

The Democrat says that makes it hard to enforce. "It does require proving up, specifically, the manner calculated to alarm. I think most reasonable people would agree that displaying a firearm in the middle of a protest is designed to alarm."

She believes the display of a weapon is designed to suppress speech. "It is not itself an expression of free speech, but it is designed to suppress speech. I think a reasonable person would agree with that."

She says Senate Bill 311 was being written before the January sixth insurrection at the US Capitol.   "The Capitol insurrection certainly is an illustration why we need this clarification in the law."

Concealed carry would still be permitted at such rallies, gatherings and demonstrations.