NRA Criticizes Open Carry Activists, Says Displaying Guns At Chipotle Is 'Downright Scary'

In an astonishing open letter, the National Rifle Association denounced gun owners who openly carried semiautomatic rifles into several family restaurants in Texas, calling the stunt “counterproductive for the gun owning community” and “downright scary” for everyone else. The NRA is just siding with basic decency here, but the move is still unprecedented. This is, after all, the organization that used the Sandy Hook shooting to advocate for more guns.

The letter, which is worth reading in full, criticizes the move as both counterproductive from a political standpoint and “just not neighborly” from a human being standpoint:

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. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

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More to the point, it's just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. 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.

Even though there’s nothing terribly radical in the NRA’s denunciation — and even though the organization is merely acting in its own political self-interest — this is a remarkable Sista Souljah moment for an organization that rarely, if ever, criticizes fellow gun owners. It’s also an uncharacteristic call for civility and respect from an organization that once used President Obama’s daughters in a pro-gun attack ad.

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Open Carry Texas posted video of its gambit earlier in May. It involved members walking into Chipotle and Chili’s restaurants in the state with rifles slung around their shoulders, the argument being that if you legally can do something, you probably should do it.

Mother Jones on YouTube

Make no mistake: It isn’t in the NRA’s interest for gun owners to be depicted as a bunch of armed militias hovering around family eateries. That’s why it’s denouncing what Open Carry Texas did. But the lobby also struck a compassionate note, and even fake compassion is more than the NRA has been able to muster in the past.