In an astonishing turn of events, the National Rifle Association seems to have realized that when swarms of men with tactical rifles saunter into ice cream parlors and burger joints, it's something of a public relations disaster. On Friday, the pro-gun group released a statement in which it distanced itself from the organization Open Carry Texas, which has made an art form out of flash mobbing fast food restaurants with long guns in tow and cell phones set to record, in an attempt to loudly assert the right to dine while fully armed. In these freedom fighters’ view, the only safe Sonic is a Sonic that’s filled with a gaggle of whiny guys with semiautomatic weapons. Their antics can be seen in the Mother Jones video below.
For the record, while it is legal to openly carry a long gun in public in Texas, it is not legal to do so “in a manner calculated to alarm.” Shockingly, the group’s confrontational tactics have proved unpopular with dining families, burger slingers, and corporate headquarters, alike. Thanks to Open Carry Texas’s efforts, seven fast-food chains — Chipotle, Starbucks, Sonic, Chili’s, Applebee’s, Jack in the Box, and Wendy’s — have now asked customers to ditch their AKs before ordering a Frappuccino or burrito bowl. It turns out that when you force family eateries to take a stand on open carrying, they almost inevitably ask that you leave your weapons in your car. Or, as the NRA put it, “[T]he freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior.” Amusingly, the NRA also described Open Carry Texas’ provocative approach as “downright weird,” and, at times, “downright scary,” emphasis theirs. For its part, Open Carry Texas has decided to use this as an opportunity to engage in a calm and thoughtful discussion of the role of guns in the public sphere. Kidding! They sent a tweet in which they dismiss the NRA — which you may remember as a 142-year-old, five-million-member pro-gun lobby — as “gun control extremists.” The tweet also refers to “lapdog media” outlets that have, presumably, tricked countless Texans with toddlers into simply wanting to eat dinner in peace.
The tweet comes as something of a surprise, given that just a week and a half ago, Open Carry Texas itself shifted gears from issuing novel interpretations of Texas’ disorderly conduct statute, and announced that it would “cease taking long guns into corporate businesses unless invited.” In that announcement, it was Open Carry Texas, and not those gun-hating scolds at the NRA, which noted the negative effects of fast-food chain pushback, and called on members to shift gears and “use that spotlight and make the most positive impact we can!” Hopefully, the above tweet and Open Carry Texas’ previous antics don’t constitute “the most positive impact” that their organization can make. After all, at this point, even the NRA is flat-out tired of their shit.