The National Rifle Association has cleared up any “confusion” there might have been over a post on its site last week calling open carry protests in Texas “downright weird.” It turns out the widely publicized statement does not represent the gun rights advocacy organization's official stance.
Chris Cox, the executive director of the group's lobbying arm, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), appeared on the organization's Cam & Co talk show Tuesday to explain that the post was a “mistake.” Cox said that the post was the “personal opinion” of the staff member who wrote it.
"It's a distraction," Cox said during the interview. "There was some confusion, we apologize, again, for any confusion that that post caused."
Cox maintained that the NRA believes gun owners have "a right to carry a firearm in any place they have a legal right to be.” He also stressed the NRA’s continued stance in favor of the right to both open and concealed carry — meaning the ability to openly wield or discretely possess a gun in public spaces.
He has reportedly spoken with the staffer who wrote post, which was published on the NRA-ILA site on Friday and read: "Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners.”
The post was specifically addressing demonstrations in which open carry advocates in Texas have been showing up in public places and restaurants visibly carrying military weapons, sometimes strapping the guns around their backs and posing for photos.
'Getting the clarification from them that it wasn't an official stance and that it was just a low-level employee... it makes sense.'
The NRA’s retraction came just a day after one of the groups behind these protests — Open Carry Texas (OCT) — issued harsh words against the statement. In a Facebook post on Monday, OCT wrote: "If they do not retract their disgusting and disrespectful comments, OCT will have no choice but to withdraw its full support of the NRA and establish relationships with other gun rights organizations that fight for ALL gun rights, instead of just paying them lip service the way the NRA appears to be doing."
OCT said group members were already “posting pictures of themselves cutting up their membership cards.” But, since Cox’s apology, OCT seems to be understanding of the mishap and willing to forgive.
"Getting the clarification from them that it wasn't an official stance and that it was just a low-level employee... it makes sense," Tov Henderson, an OCT member, told WFAA-TV in Dallas.
The open carry protests have garnered increased attention, especially as national chains have begun to take stances against this type of action. After OCT made an appearance at a Chipotle in the Lone Star state, the fast-food chain became one of the latest companies to ask gun owners not to carry weapons while in the company’s restaurants.
“The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers,” Chipotle said in a statement on May 19. Chipotle joins restaurants like Wendy’s, Starbucks, Jack in the Box, and Applebee's in this move.
Open carry advocates now plan to take their arguments (but maybe not their weapons) to a very public forum kicking off in Forth Worth on Thursday — the Republican Party of Texas convention.
Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB