Gun rights advocates to build weapons at Texas Capitol demonstration
Second Amendment advocates plan to manufacture guns at the Texas Capitol during an armed rally set for the opening day of the 2015 legislative session.
Come and Take it Texas announced late Monday that it had purchased "the Ghost Gunner," a machine that uses 3-D technology tobuild firearms, for use at the Jan. 13 event, where participants had already planned to carry rifles and shotguns to protest the state's gun laws.
"Things just got a little more interesting on the 13th," an organizer wrote on the group's Facebook page.
The Ghost Gunner can manufacture the lower receiver of an AR-15. The machine, which produces designs in metal instead of plastic like a typical 3-D printer, was invented by Austin-based gun rights activist Cody Wilson. Wilson, whose nonprofit Defense Distributed sells the Ghost Gunner for about $1,500, created the world's first 3-D printable gun in 2013.
The rally, held in support of a bill filed by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, is part of a push to scrap the state's handgun licensing requirements during the upcoming legislative session. Stickland did not immediately return a request for comment.
A divide exists among gun rights supporters over the use of armed rallies to raise awareness for their cause. Some view the tactic — which has featured protesters carrying weapons such as assault rifles in city streets — as overly aggressive. The possible 3-D printing of firearms at such a rally has added another layer of controversy.
At a second rally planned for later in the month by Open Carry Texas, participants will be carrying empty holsters instead of firearms. The group's founder, CJ Grisham, said Tuesday that he had reached out to the January 13 event's organizers to ask them not to use the Ghost Gunner at the Capitol.
"I don't understand the purpose of it," Grisham said. "It seems confrontational, and really, needless. I mean it's the first day of the Legislature, we are this close to getting open carry passed, and now these guys want to come and manufacture a firearm on the steps of the Capitol? I just don't get it."
Plans for firearm manufacturing at the rally also drew criticism from Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for tighter gun control.
"If this type of extreme behavior is happening now, what will texas look like without any kind of reasonable licensing requirement at all, which is their ultimate goal?" said Claire Elizabeth, the president of the group's Texas Chapter.
Come and Take It Texas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Texas, which allows the public display of long guns like rifles and shotguns, legalized the concealed carrying of handguns with a license in 1995. It is one of six states that specifically prohibit the unconcealed display of handguns, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Stickland's measure is among several from lawmakers targeting handgun restrictions, but it is the only one so far that proposes lifting licensing requirements altogether.
Morgan Smith was an editorial intern and columnist at Slate, in Washington D.C., before moving to Austin to enter law school at the University of Texas in 2008. (She has put her degree on hold to join the Tribune’s staff.) A native of San Antonio, she has a B.A. in English from Wellesley College.